The city authorities of Mumbai want to improve the quality of life of the people who live there. This includes the slum or squatter settlement dwellers. Current approaches across Mumbai are for whole sale DEMOLITION of the slums which are replaced by high rise tower blocks for people to live in. The positives and negatives of these are shown below;
These types of redevelopment are planned for Dharavi by the Slum Rehabilitation Authority (SRA). They have proposed a $2billion development project. This threatens the recycling district and part of Dharavi. The land upon which Dharavi is built is next to Mumbai’s financial district. This makes it a prime target for redevelopment. The people who are relocated will be put into smaller housing in apartment blocks. An ancient fishing village is also threatened. These areas have strong safe neighbourhoods that have low crime and communal areas. Also at risk are the local shops and markets and the community spirit which has taken generations to develop. The locals would prefer small improvements to the existing slum such as improvements in drainage. The value of land is so high that redevelopment is now a real threat. The alternative accommodation is very small, only 21m squared.
The slum dwellers face 14 story apartments as accommodation as proposed by the cities Slum Rehabilitation Authority. This will separate communities and make people work away from where they live. Only people who have lived in the slum since 1995 will be relocated. Current redevelopment projects are densely populated and house lots of people. They are not good for the community.
Local Based Improvements
There is an alternative to large scale redevelopment and that is to allow LOCAL people design the improvements to the slum.
The Society for the Promotion of Area Resource Centres, better known as SPARC, is an NGO that supports the efforts of local people to get better housing for their many members. Ideas generated from local people supported by this charity include adding an extra floor to buildings so that all family members can be accommodated in the same building. These flats also had 14-foot high ceilings and a single tall window so are well ventilated, bright, and less dependent on electric fans for cooling. Their loft spaces add extra room without seeming crowded, and include small spaces for bathing. Toilets are placed at the end of each of the building’s four floors, and kept clean by the two or three families who use each one. These ideas only work when water is running in Dharavi.
As the National Slum Dwellers Federation has repeatedly proven, housing the poor works best, costs less and is better for the environment, when the poor themselves have a say in what is being built.