URBAN POOR

For the past three years, Anjana’s family of seven has had only one earning member. Anjana and her father, both workers at India United No. 5, a National Textile Corporation (NTC) mill in Mumbai, have been without work ever since the mills closed down during the COVID pandemic. Her brother works at a vegetable store. Expectedly, the income is not sufficient to run the household. “I dropped out after class 9 and started working at the mill in 2019 because the family needed more income. Once COVID happened, the mill closed down. We got full salaries for two to three…

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Banganga is known as the mini Banaras of Mumbai. It is a popular tourist attraction, with hundreds of tourists visiting the Walkeshwar temple every day.  It is located at Malabar Hill, one of the posh areas in Mumbai, known for its charm and beauty. However, a stark contrast to everything around Banganga, is the condition of the informal settlements, especially the sanitation facilities. Most of the community toilets are not usable. They are either locked or are not well maintained. Kalimata Nagar and Sagar Nagar in Banganga are the closest to the sea front. The two toilets constructed for women…

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Gangaram Hivrale has been making trips to the ward office to ask about the “promised” rehabilitation. However, he is yet to get a positive response. It’s been six years since his family was evicted. In 2017, the Bombay High Court had ordered removal of houses for the security of Tansa Pipeline and also ordered rehabilitation based on the 2000 cutoff date for informal housing.  “Every time we go to the ward office to ask about our status of Annexure-2 finalization, we are told there are no houses available in the city. We have all the documents yet, we have to…

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For Sowndharya Gopi, a trans person who grew up in the housing unit of the Tamil Nadu Urban Habitat Development Board (TNUHDB) in Royapuram, those tenements constituted the centre of her life.  "I have faced discrimination for being a trans person all my life but the people in those housing units, who were my kith and kin, were the first among the few people who accepted me for who I am," says Sowndharya. Recalling the days of her family moving from the thatched huts to the housing unit, Sowndharya says that as many as 240 families living in the nearby…

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On May 25, the Maharashtra government cleared the decks for the first-ever departure from Mumbai’s free rehousing scheme for residents of informal settlements since its inception nearly 28 years ago.  With elections due to the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), and also to the state Assembly and Parliament next year, the state government announced that slum structures built between 2000 and 2011 would now also be eligible for rehousing under the Slum Rehabilitation Authority (SRA) projects—only, this category of slum structure owners would not get free houses, but would pay Rs 2.5 lakh each. Until now, structures built after 2000 were…

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Earlier this month, when 48-year-old Pralhad Kale parked his rickshaw near his residence in Ambujwadi, he noticed an unattended shovel kept on the road next to a hole that was being dug. When he picked it up and kept it aside, a police constable came swaggering, assuming that Kale was the man digging the hole as he looked like a member of the Pardhi community and snapped at him saying, “Just by looking at your face I can tell the number of criminal cases registered against you.”  Pralhad felt infuriated but controlled his anger and informed the cop that he…

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Mumbai's slum residents will be able to buy a house for Rs 2.5 lakh The Maharashtra government will provide housing to slum dwellers residing in Mumbai who live in hutments built before January 1, 2011. They will be charged a sum of Rs 2.5 lakh in return. A government resolution (GR) regarding this was issued on May 25th. According to the existing laws, individuals residing in slums built until January 1, 2000, are legally protected and cannot be evicted without being provided a free tenement. Slums exist because the city is unable to produce adequate housing that working people can…

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School is where children learn, play and have their first encounter with the actual world. An informed teacher who encourages curiosity in children can do wonders for students with the proper guidance. A suggestion by a school teacher to attend a curated walk titled ‘ComplexCity’ for a school project led us to a resettlement colony in Mankhurd, Mumbai.  We got to know about the ComplexCity walk by YUVA for the first time through our school teacher, Ms. Deepti, at the Bombay International School. This was possible as she is in touch with various NGOs such as YUVA. The walk's theme, conducted…

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In 2000, as many as 96 families who had been homeless and residing on footpaths in and around Chintadripet were provided with a new lease of life under the Permanent Shelter Scheme of the Housing and Urban Development Corporation (HUDCO). But two decades on, the families residing in the Ritchie Street Home for Homeless Cooperative Housing Society find themselves in varying degrees of debt and uninhabitable living conditions.  What were the promises made to the families on resettlement? Where did the project fail? Debt owed by families in Ritchie Street housing The 96 resettled families were provided with one-room flats…

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On the night following the March 13th fire that gutted more than 1,000 houses in the Appapada informal settlement in Malad East, a mini tempo arrived with a few items of clothing for the families. Fights broke out whenever a person tried to take as many clothes as possible, only to have them snatched away by another person in need. Weeks later, the situation has not changed much. The residents are trying to rebuild their homes with the little aid that is coming to their rescue. Sheela Ruke, a contractual sanitation worker with the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), has been…

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