Under the Slum Rehabilitation Scheme, people were moved to Chembur’s apartment complexes where water is dripping from the ceiling in several flats and lacks basic facilities.
When Slum Rehabilitation Authority was introduced in Mumbai, people were elated. Slum dwellers moved to multi-storeyed apartment complexes with attached toilet in every house. The government who was feeling obligated to provide alternative accommodation looked it like the problem is solved. But within a few years time, people saw a different picture. Very soon, in Mumbai’s Pansheel Nagar, Chembur, houses started facing water leakage, because of the poor construction.
The Government of Maharashtra launched a comprehensive slum rehabilitation scheme. Slum Rehabilitation Authority, launched in 1996, is serving as Planning Authority for all slum areas in the jurisdiction of Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai. The idea was to improve the slum structure as a housing solution and provide basic amenities to the slum dwellers. For this purpose, slums were to be relocated elsewhere. “These flats are 2.5 years old, 70 -80% of the houses are facing leakage problem. People live here in bad conditions. Huts from the slum area were demolished and this structure was built. But this structure feels like a hut. These engineers have not checked the construction materials”, says Murari Thakur, a resident of Chembur, Mumbai.
Most of the residents who have moved to these concrete tenements are in distress. They are deprived of basic facilities. Families are relocated to a place which lacks a clean environment. People are facing health issues because of poor sanitation and air pollution. “Our drinking water tank is next to the drainage line. When the water overflows, the water is mixed with that of drainage. Residents use the same water for drinking“, says Rambhau Shinde from Chembur Mumbai. The Slum Rehabilitation Authority which is the state’s nodal agency for slum development provided flats to 560 families out of 870. 310 families are still homeless.
On 27th February, the residents of the Pansheel Nagar had a sit-in-protest protesting for the last 92 days. The Circle officer assured them that their problem will be taken care of and will be resolved in 15 days. People are expressing their anguish and intending to stage a protest in front of Varsha Bungalow (Cheif Minister residence) if their demands are not met. It has been almost a month after submitting an application to the Circle officer but still awaits for solutions. Does rehabilitation means just providing an alternative housing structure?
To support the residents of Panchsheel Nagar call Deepak Kapoor, Chief Executive Officer, Slum Rehabilation Authority, Mumbai on 02226591314.
Video by Community Correspondent Amol Lalzare
Article by Grace Jolliffe, a member of the VV editorial team