Bombay – now known as Mumbai – is the home of Bollywood movies and India’s city of gold, its financial capital. Like a magnet, it draws in people from all over the country. But behind the glitz, glamour and the hype lurks a different reality – a city landscape dominated by massive, sprawling slums – some of the biggest in the world. According to the city housing authority, eight million out of the twelve million people in Mumbai live in the slums. And Mumbai is not alone. Slums are a global problem. They are home to one billion people – one in six of the world’s population. UN-Habitat predicts that by 2030, one in every three people in the world could be living in a slum. Mumbai is expensive, and even the middle classes have difficulty in buying property. P K Das, an architect and town planner, says: “I know examples of professionals including architects who live in slums, there are engineers who live in slums, there are police who live in slums, municipal officials who live in slums.” [pic]
There are people who stay in two tiny rooms where her family of 16 sleep in shifts. They have no electricity, an illegal supply of water and no toilet. Things have got worse since she first arrived: “People come to Bombay only when they have problems in their village. When People come to Mumbai they get squatted wherever they could: on land owned by the government, Mumbai municipality, the railways and on private land. The authority responsible for Mumbai’s slums is the Maharashtra state housing authority. Their attempts to get rid of the slums have failed and the infrastructure is almost at breaking point. But there is one fact to be noted out that, the city simply wouldn’t function without the slum dwellers. Slum dwellers, are“60% of the population that provide all the services in the city; from the boy who brings in your milk, to your newspaper vendor, to the maid who works in your house to the driver who takes you to work, to the people who works in your factories, to the clerk in the bank, to the municipal corporations, schools, colleges, these people live in the slums. They are the working people in Bombay, if they said Halt, Bombay would come to a grinding halt.”
Slumdwellers have not willingly chosen their shanty structures and unhygienic environment, but have been driven to this option due to compelling circumstances as they were thrown out of the formal housing sector, the latter being unaffordable and far beyond their income levels. It is imperative to enhance their standard of living, for which an authorized dwelling unit is a first step in the right direction. But the slum dwellers do have some power. They are the largest block of votes in Mumbai and their biggest success came four years ago. In 2001 the state government passed a law saying slum dwellers who registered before 1995 would not be evicted and would have free housing. The scheme is financed through deals with the builders. The slum dwellers are given free houses in the same area and in order to finance that there is a certain element of ‘free sale’ component that means you can sell a part of the tenements that you construct over there to anybody at a market price and thereby cross subsidize the cost of construction for the slum dwellers. But poverty is a problem, even when slum dwellers move into proper housing. There are people who moved from the railway tracks to a new block. But they didn’t know that they would be living on the seventh floor. The residents can’t afford to keep the lift going and at the moment they have no water supply. There are problems where people have to carry water up seven flights and so . These problems arise due to the malfunctioning of the schemes because of inadequate maintainance and improper water supply. The main problems in such schemes is, If you look at the labour markets, where the wages that most people earn are so low that even when they move into formal settlements their wages are...
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