Noble Mansion

Rahul Bhatia

Making the future in western Maharashtra

Within decades, Mumbai and its surrounding areas will be turned into extensions of each other. But it is a halting progress, caused by issues over fairness, transparency, and worries about the future. I will attempt to decipher the concerns over land takeovers in a part of the Mumbai Metropolitan Region, in a city that is planned for the area. It is called NAINA. I will spend time with people affected by NAINA to understand their relationship with land, how they see their place in this future, how they're coping, and how they're preparing.

A guide to NAINA

The winding road

A series about life and land acquisition around a major transportation corridor

An Airport and a City

Life in the midst of development in Navi Mumbai


By @rahulabhatia. Series title: The Winding Road. When the real estate boom came to Panvel and its surroundings, residents rode the wave. They sold their land and got rich. They made deals to supply builders with all the construction material they required. All some of them wanted to do was handle contracts; an escalation in status, and a signal that they had toiled enough in life. Many began to make bricks. Every farmer who sells land requires bricks. Every contractor requires bricks. Pyramids of bricks five metres high lie in wait for their fate along the city’s outer roads. They grow dark in the rain and glisten when the sun emerges. The winter mist shrouds them. All year long they are here, where demand is. The bricks come from factories nearby. They’re made by tribal families who migrate twice every year; once to work, the second to live. The brick kiln owners visit the families before Ganesh Chaturthi and advance them money to stake their claim on the tribals’ time. Their children come along. ‘Bhoonga’ schools pop up for six months. Ask them where they’re going, and they’ll reply, “Jagaila chalu.” Which translates, I’m told, to: “We’re going there so that we can live.” There are no health provisions. Not long ago, Panvel’s brick factories used chemicals instead of coal until the process was declared hazardous. Now there are other hazards. Say you’re tossing bricks to a partner in a truck. Out of nowhere a guy comes along to take pictures of you. Why? No idea. You start giggling. You can’t hold it together. You lose it, the bricks slip out of your hands mid-toss and smash into each other, their bits flying everywhere. Kiln owners call it ‘toot-foot’. Breakage. They get tribal families to make 1100 bricks instead of 1000 for this reason. But they pay for a thousand. Breakage.

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