In Depth

Mumbai slum gets Amalfi Coast revamp

Asalfa district gets paint job modelled on picturesque Positano

A Mumbai slum district has become an unlikely tourist attraction following a paint job inspired by the picture-perfect towns along Italy’s Amalfi Coast.

The grey shacks of Asalfa were a familiar sight to Mumbai commuters using the rail line that passes by the shanty town, perched on a hill in the eastern Ghatkopar district of India’s largest city.

One of those commuters was Dedeepya Reddy, a Harvard-educated businesswoman who runs a digital media agency in the city.

“This slum was in itself a beautiful landscape. Sitting there on a hilltop, it was raw but it had a beat of its own,” she told Your Story, saying she saw the area as a “blank canvas”.

The dream of unlocking Asalfa’s potential inspired Reddy, who has a background in design, to create Chal Rang De (Let’s Colour It), a non-profit organisation dedicated to bringing beauty to Mumbai’s most unloved quarters.

Naturally, Asalfa was her first target. At first, Reddy says, the residents were dubious about the plans.

“They weren’t very used to people coming and doing nice things for them,” she said. “But once we showed them renders of how it would look, they were extremely supportive.”

A woman walks past an artist painting a wall of a slum hutment at the Asalpha village in Mumbai on December 17, 2017. With an aim to alter the perspective the world has of urban slums city ar

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Over two weekends in December, 750 volunteers armed with 400 litres of paint joined locals to transform Asalfa into “Mumbai’s Positano”, painting 120 shacks in bright, paint-box shades and lining the narrow lanes with colourful murals.

A man looks on as an artist paints a wall of a slum hutment at the Asalpha village in Mumbai on December 17, 2017. With an aim to alter the perspective the world has of urban slums city artis

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Not everyone is convinced. Three residents asked a Times of India reporter: “What exactly is the paint for?”

However, the eye-catching revamp “is now not only distracting Metro users but also seeing foreigners with SLR cameras ascend its stone stairs”, Times of India reports. One elderly resident told the newspaper that she had recently stepped out of her house to behold three drones buzzing overhead.

“We want to promote this place as a must-visit place when you’re here in Bombay," Reddy told The Quint. "We’re creating curated tours for people, we are going to be training the local boys to take people around so they also make more money out of this.”

Chal Rang De is now planning to bring colour to other Mumbai slums, as well as hospitals, prisons and railway stations.

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