The slum dwellers of Pestom Sagar Area, Chembur, Mumbai have developed some really thick resilience. Their slums have been tossed and toppled away so many times that their bitterness is turning to rage now.
Mumbai, ‘the city of dreams’, is one of the most populous cities in India, and home to one of the world’s largest slums, ‘Dharavi’. The city is surrounded by water on three sides, and due to the constant influx of people from other areas, there is a constant issue of residential lands. Because of shortage of affordable housing and skyrocketing real estate prices, slums occupy almost 12% of the total geographical area of Mumbai.
The Mumbai Municipality has notified slums as illegal if they are established post year 2000, and shockingly, nearly half of Mumbai’s slums are non - notified, without the security of land tenure or facilities such as drinking water supply and hygienic sanitation.
The Government of Maharashtra has one Slum Rehabilitation Authority, to free up the land and to rehabilitate slum dwellers. The Government invites and allows private builders to construct low income housing to re-house the slum dwellers and the rest of the free land can be used for upmarket commercial complexes. But these schemes often face resistance as the new housing only focuses on residential purpose and leaves no room for the marginalised slum dwellers to do informal businesses, one of the important livelihood options for them. These housing schemes are only for notified slums.
And non-notified slums are bulldozed often, as you can see in this video. Towards the end, one angry resident said bitterly about the constant demolition drives of the Municipality - “the Government will clean our blood stains after we die.”
This is the story of the slum dwellers of Mumbai, the beaten and downtrodden, but vital to an informal economy and a burning example of the will to live.
With inputs from :
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