Sports City, Greater Noida
NOIDA: Apartments are usually targeted at particular income groups. But a developer inGreater Noida has narrowed down his focus group to a particular community.
The builder, Adarsh Group, is promoting the apartments - Gulistaan Golf View Heights - as "dream homes for elite Muslim brotherhood". The apartments - 368 in all, priced at between Rs 2,500 and Rs 3,750 per sq feet - are coming up on 3.5 acres in Sports City, Greater Noida. It will have a mosque, a madrassa, and will face Qibla - the direction a Muslim faces when offering prayers. Construction is likely to begin by the end of this month.
While this may be a sound business proposition, questions are being raised on whether this is an attempt at creating high-end ghettoes. But equally, some see this as a practical solution in a country where it is still often difficult for Muslims to rent or buy houses.
"These are going to be dream houses for Muslims in Sports City," said Saleem Zafar, owner and CEO of Adarsh Group. "We have been able to make it a reality after a long struggle. A lot of our emotions are invested in this because we wish to give the Muslims of India an opportunity to experience a best-in-class living experience. They should move out from their colonies and shift into plush apartments like this."
Despite the high sales pitch, not all Muslims find the idea exciting. "Being a Muslim myself, I don't want to live in an all-Muslim apartment complex," said Professor Shahid Jamal, head of the communications department at Shiv Nadar University. "Why should anyone prefer to live within a community of the same religion? Isn't that what ghettoes are all about?" he added.
Renowned political scientist Imtiaz Ahmed said the idea of India is rooted in inclusion and integration of all communities. "But such an apartment complex, dedicated exclusively to a particular community, makes them more vulnerable in case of violence and disturbance. Besides, it goes against the constitutional ethos of the country," he added.
But, Aftab Alam, a TV professional living in NCR for the past 14 years, feels there is logic behind this. "For Muslim families, listening to the azaan in the morning and evening is very significant. That's why most families try and live close to mosques. Also, celebrating festivals becomes difficult in mixed-community areas. Apart from this, it is not easy for a Muslim family to find a house in certain areas of Delhi as many landlords still have reservations about renting houses to Muslims, which forces them to rent houses in only Muslim-friendly areas of NCR."
"We are very clear that by building Muslim-only apartments, our intention is to provide the Muslims of NCR a high-quality living experience, which is friendly to their culture. People of different communities have different lifestyles and an apartment with a mosque and madrassa would definitely be a great experience for the Muslim families who can afford to buy these flats. This is just a step towards the development of the community," Zafar added.