URBAN POOR

Halfway through our interview, vegetable vendor Rekha asked me point blank, “Isse kya hoga,” and at that moment, I could not think of an answer. She was right and had every reason to be hopeless. Much has been written about air pollution and much energy has been spent on expert committees and political debates and yet nothing has changed.  “Hum toh garib log hai, hum kisko jakar bole, hamari sunvai nahin hoti” (We are poor people, to whom do we go, nobody listens to us),” says Rekha Devi, who sells vegetables in the Keshopur Mandi. Keshopur is a large retail…

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Mumbai North East (Parliamentary Constituency no 28) comprises six assembly constituencies: Mulund, Vikhroli, Bhandup (W), Ghatkopar (W), Ghatkopar (E), Mankhurd – Shivaji Nagar. After the delimitation of 2008, the first MP from this constituency was Sanjay Dina Patil, who contested from an NCP ticket. The constituency shows a demographic variety both in terms of religion and standard of living. There is a sizeable population of the Muslim religious minority here. It has the M-East ward, one of the poorest in the city with lowest human development indicators. The ward saw an outbreak of mumps a while ago. Mumbai North East…

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With the Lok Sabha elections just around the corner, citizen groups of Mumbai North East Parliamentary constituency in Govandi have been organising awareness camps for voters. These efforts are for those in the area, who feel disconnected from voting, or feel that they do not know enough. They have been organised by groups, which have established themselves in the area through years of social service related activities, including Govandi Citizens Welfare Forum, Govandi New Sangam Welfare Society, Al-Khidmat vyapari Associations and many more. By conducting election awareness programs and voting camps, these organisations aim to increase voter turnout, empower citizens…

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Cities in India are set to host half of the population by 2030, driving the country's ‘growth’ and ‘development’. Urbanisation is now being seen as a key focus area of public policy and ‘solution’ to ‘development needs’ of our country. However, this rapid urbanisation has brought numerous challenges, particularly for the urban poor, working class, and informal workers who struggle to access housing, livelihoods, and basic rights like water, healthcare, and education. Despite contributing significantly to cities, their rights have often been ignored and violated until now. Over the past year, community groups, workers’ collectives, and people's movements with decades-long…

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When Cyclone Michaung-induced floods hit the resettlement colonies of Perumbakkam, the houses on the ground floor were quickly inundated. On a priority basis, persons with disabilities were allocated houses on the ground floor. However, with the floods, their vulnerability pushed them further to the fringes. They were forced to climb stairs seeking refuge in other people's homes that already had leaky roofs and damp walls. This was not the first time people in resettlement colonies in Perumbakkam or Semmencherry were facing floods. Almost every year, November and December are months of struggle for the families, who are evicted and resettled…

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"There isn't much garbage coming to the landfill now," says Rahim, 36, a waste picker working in the vicinity of Bhalswa. "Earlier, we would retrieve e-waste alone worth 500-700 rupees, but now it's dwindled to a mere 150-200 rupees." Saira Banu, 40, another waste picker, says "Whatever waste gets dumped these days, the trucks pick them up at night, leaving almost nothing for us. It's no longer as profitable as it used to be in the past years." Saira has been working for over two decades around Bhalswa. "I used to come here from Jahangirpuri to collect waste before marriage,…

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The Gruha Lakshmi scheme was supposed to be the crowning glory of the Congress government's five guarantees scheme. But for lakhs of women in the state, the scheme has not yet borne fruit. Under the policy, female heads of household in low-income families can receive Rs 2,000 per month to supplement their income. The scheme was formally launched in August last year, but several women had not yet received the benefits. Who are eligible? Women who are heads of their household and have a BPL (below poverty line), APL (above poverty line) or Antyodaya card issued by the Karnataka Department…

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In a major development with long-term implications, the Maharashtra government on December 20, 2023 permitted sale or renting out of Slum Rehabilitation Authority (SRA) housing on completion of five years after allotment. Earlier, it could be sold only after ten years. This amendment was unanimously supported by policymakers across all political parties. Incidentally, earlier when the state government had considered cutting the lock-in period to just three years, it met up with strong opposition from its law and judiciary department, which felt that it would lead to ‘profiteering’ by free tenement allottees.  Housing minister Atul Save also admitted in the…

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At 51 years, N C Bhatra, a migrant labourer in Chennai, finds the 20-hour train journey to his hometown in Puri, Odisha, arduous and costly. So much so that he has limited his trips home to see his wife and two children to just one or two times a year. Bhatra had migrated from Puri to Chennai in 1996. Reserving a ticket in the sleeper coach was much easier then, he says. But over the past five years, he has never been able to book tickets directly as they get sold out much faster.  “To get a ticket nowadays, I…

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BMC takes steps to tackle rising air pollution As air pollution in the city worsens by the day, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has introduced new measures. The BMC has recently imposed a ban on the open burning of garbage. In a press conference, Guardian minister, Deepak Kesarkar, said that the BMC had issued notices to 6,000 construction sites, instructing them to install fogging machines and sprinklers to control air pollution. He also informed that the BMC is in the process of implementing waste segregation procedures at its two landfills in Deonar and Kanjurmarg, focusing on the extraction of pollutants…

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