Residents Yearn for a Breath of Fresh Air

A mass of colourful plastic bags lies around; the stench from a semi-stagnant pool of filthy water fills the air. I’m not describing a dump-yard but the condition of Zakir Hussain Colony in Mumbai.

The sewage pipes that run past the small houses of the colony are clogged and they overflow on to the surrounding area. “We constantly have insects and rats coming into the house. The children suffer the most; there are constant outbreaks of diseases like Malaria.” Suman Wankhede’s complaint reflects the wider mood of frustration in the colony.

In the shadows of the tall shimmering skyscrapers there exists an entirely different world in Mumbai. Around half of it population of 20 million lives in 2000 densely packed slums. In most of these areas the condition of sanitation facilities hardly exists. Amol recalls an incident when he almost fainted because of the stench while filming this story.

In 2001 the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) started the Dattak Vasti Yojana to ensure that the areas that were neglected by the BMC were cleaned on a regular basis. Even so the residents are left to the whims of the cleaners who come only when their own jobs are at stake.

The residents of Zakir Hussain colony are fed-up of the unsanitary conditions they have been living in and want action to be taken immediately. Amol wonders why these conditions have been neglected for this long.

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