In Mumbai, slum occupants suffer illness and indignity due to flooding sewer water.
Rank, stagnant water forms lakes in Annabhau Sathenagar slum. The residents, who are forced to wade through it to get anywhere, are rash-ridden and frequently fall ill. Children quit school because by the time they get there, they are muddied and stinking. Because of a lack of water supply, the people are forced to use a dirty ground water source for their domestic needs. It is an ugly life, one filled with desperation and disease.
“I made this video because these are difficulties I too have faced,” says Amol, our CC who also lives in Sathenagar slum, albeit in a more developed part than the one he shoots in his video today. “I have also had chicken pox, diarrhea, and rashes because of stagnant water. In the parts of the slum where I live, we have better standards of living because we have been living here a long time, we are educated and we know how to handle the authorities.”
Unfortunately, majority of residents of the Annabhau settlement are not originally from Mumbai, but immigrants from other parts of the country who are in too precarious a situation to fight. They’ve been occupying this land illegally for the last 10 years, and don’t dare to take their complaints to the authorities for fear of being evicted. Many of them are illiterate and although they vote, they never go to the BMC with their issues. “You see, they had no idea that they couldn’t live on this land. They just moved in – there were no signs saying anything. They don’t pay rent so they are unwilling to move somewhere else.” And while they remain squatters, the BMC is under no compulsion to make their situation better.
Amol believes that this land should either be allowed to be occupied legitimately or these people should be moved to an area with better facilities. “Soon there will be another election, and just before that I am going to take this video to the people of Annabhau slum and mobilize them. I will call the press and the local municipal corporations and organize a protest. They will threaten to hold their vote back. Something will have to change then.”