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Tag: mumbai

“The way government thinks about land is completely capitalistic”

Pankaj Kapoor, the managing director of Liases Foras, a real estate analytics firm in Mumbai, met with me at his office in a new building at Andheri East. Columns of large box files about Mumbai’s land prices teetered in the conference room. Although it was evening on a Saturday, the place was occupied with a row of staff who stared at their screens. Kapoor sipped on a cup of light tea and talked about real estate in Mumbai, NAINA, and what exactly set off land prices in the city (hint: it wasn’t demand).

When did you first start seeing the wealth effects of land?

You know, all this started in 2005. The seeds of the exuberance were put in when realty was open for foreign direct investment. That was the first time the government came forward and started land bidding. Mill land that belonged to the National Textile Corporation was sold, and the price of that land was being discovered. The NTC mill land deals, the MMRDA deals, and similar deals across India set the prices. I remember a time when a couple of land deals in Lower Parel happened. My own estimations for Lower Parel at that time was Rs 6000 a square foot. Land was sold, if you look, for over Rs 10,000.

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The urn and the tomato

A boy wearing a plastic bag for protection stands on a pile of garbage several floors high. He holds up an urn that is pink, white, and covered in something brown. What is it, someone asks. A cup, he says, holding it high above with one hand. What kind of cup is it, the questioner asks. It’s a tea cup, he says. He catches a glimpse of a plant rising from the trash and runs to it, letting go the very fancy tea cup/urn. “Tamatar!” He plucks two green tomatoes, and gives one to a friend. He chomps on the other one.

This is from a fascinating documentary about life at the Deonar dumping ground, a landfill with hills of trash so tall that any increase in their height requires permission from the Airport Authority of India. It’s a little exploration of a place that’s been described extensively, but what really works here, I think, are the silences. Nothing is said. Just pictures of people at work. Good, powerful stuff by the School of Media and Cultural Studies at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences.

Part one:

Part two: