ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Pushing the Poor to the Periphery in Mumbai

The resettlement packages offered to slum dwellers in Mumbai not only violate their right to shelter but also lead to deterioration in their quality of life. There is an urgent need to calculate the cost of repeated demolitions that push slum dwellers to the city's outer limits against that of acknowledging their right to housing.

The relocation of Mumbai’s slums and its population northwards is perhaps indicative of the city’s growing exclusionary character. Data collected during the 2011 Census shows that there is a slight dip in the slum population of south Mumbai. In ward A (Colaba), it has decreased by more than 63% and the non-slum population by 16%. This is, however, accompanied by a simultaneous growth of slum dwellers in the satellite towns and suburbs of Mumbai. In Ward M east (Mankhurd), the slum population grew by 2.23 lakhs or 48.3% and at present 85% of the population in this ward comprises slum dwellers. In the most populous ward, Dindoshi or Ward P (north), the slum population rose by 39% with slum dwellers forming as much as 75% of the population.1

Several such northward shifts o­ccurred at various points of Mumbai’s history as it evolved since colonial times. The present pattern, however, is significant because it is one caused by policymakers in the name of development and rehabilitation. In the 1950s there was a clear-cut policy of slum clearance. Today no one uses the term “clearance” and n­aked violence is not always witnessed, but the politics of rehabilitation is no better than eviction. Resettlement packages and implementation of the Slum Rehabilitation Scheme (SRS) not only deny basic rights to shelter, say activists like Simpreet Singh, lecturer at Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) and also member of the National Alliance of People’s Movement (NAPM), but the very vital linkages of l­ivelihood and housing are also being r­uptured. Let us look at some of the ways in which rehabilitation policies and schemes have actually lowered the quality of life and are further dividing the city into haves and have-nots.

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