Urban Slums: Rebuilding the City of Dreams

Community Correspondent Amol Lalzare is hoping to address the development imbalance in the city of Mumbai, one video at a time.

The popular image of Mumbai that most of us would conjure up in our minds is the Mumbai of glittering skylines and the one of its kind Sea Link. It is touted as the city of dreams and where the big money is. Mumbai is also known for its urban slums, an image that some of us might conjure up and unfortunately, even romanticise.

But for Amol, Mumbai is the city that he lives in and works in and the city whose problems he seeks to address at the hyperlocal level. Amol Lalzare is a Video Volunteers Community Correspondent who primarily reports from Mumbai’s M-East Ward, the ward that fares worst on development indicators. He looks at health and sanitation in the area and the status of public services, along with workers’ rights across the megapolis.

Amol’s video reports along with his activism and follow-ups with local officials has made him a go-to person in his community. So, when the residents of Sathe Nagar in eastern Mumbai were tired of waiting for their lanes to be repaired for three years, they got in touch with Amol.

“We contacted Amol and asked him to advise us. We discussed the possible solutions and then went ahead with the plan he proposed”, says a local resident who went to the local Corporator to show the video report Amol made.

Involving the community is one thing that Amol did to come up with a solution, the other thing he did, and does, was build a level of familiarity and trust in the Corporator. Vitthal Lokre, the then Corporator of Sathe Nagar, listened to Amol’s suggestions and gave his own inputs as well. After a couple of weeks, construction work on the lanes began.

“Amol works for IndiaUnheard (Video Volunteers’ news platform), which reports on issues that people in the slums face, the big media groups don’t report on such issues”, says Lokre, promising that he will get the work done because he knows of Amol and his work.

Sathe Nagar and the areas in its vicinity have not been on the development priority for the BMC (Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation) or the state government, and these are the pockets where disadvantaged and minority communities reside, in the case of M-East Ward– migrant labourers who keep the city on its feet. Journalists and activists like Amol are trying to overturn this development imbalance.

Video by Community Correspondent Amol Lalzare

Article by Alankrita Anand, a member of the VV editorial team

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