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No longer back of beyond

mumbai Updated: Mar 30, 2010 21:50 IST
Sweta Ramanujan

For Dindoshi in Goregaon, the transformation began in the 1990s when Nagari Nivara Parishad’s low-cost housing project forhttp://www.hindustantimes.com/Images/HTEditImages/Images/290310/Pages-from-15-10-2009-Metro.jpg economically weaker sections was launched after social activist Mrinal Gore’s agitation in the 1980s.

But from being known as merely the periphery of Aarey Milk Colony and home to lower-middle-class families and slums, this stretch, which leads to Bollywood’s sweatshop, Film City, has become one of the most preferred residential addresses in the western suburbs.

As the area’s profile changed, so did the price of land, which hit new highs in the past few years. “In 1986-87, prices here were Rs 700 per sq ft,” said Manoj Samantray (44), a petroleum consultant who moved into his two-bedroom apartment in one of the oldest towers in the area in 2003. “When the stock market boom came in the early 1990s, prices rose to Rs 3,500.”

Rapid construction also brought in health club chains, business process outsourcing firms and realty giants. “The best part is the number of big banks that have set up shop here,” said Samantray. “Earlier, we had just one nationalised bank.”
Accessibility to the area improved and a mall added to the ‘it’ quotient. Dindoshi also got a touch of glamour when actress-MP Hema Malini and her daughters moved into a bungalow there recently.

Today, Samantray’s 1,225 sq ft home would be worth about Rs 80 lakh.

The realty boom in Mumbai reflected most in the way the locality developed. Homes along this stretch now cost between Rs 6,000 and Rs 11,000 per sq ft. From being a lonely road that people avoided at night, it is now the address of one of the city’s biggest and swankiest shopping destinations, the Oberoi Mall.

“It used to be very dangerous to travel along this stretch at night. There would be thieves and robbers lurking in the dark,” said Prabhakar Shetty, who runs a Malvani restaurant, Ratnagiri, in Dindoshi. “But now it’s abuzz with activity. And business has improved too.”

Despite rampant construction, Dindoshi has managed to retain large green patches. And it has the lush Aarey Milk Colony for a backyard. “It’s very quiet and peaceful even though it’s so close to the Western Express Highway,” said Samantray. “You hardly feel like you’re living in Mumbai.”