12 Elevating Human Dignity - Yorick Fonseca

posted Sep 6, 2018, 10:32 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Sep 6, 2018, 10:33 AM ]
Matthew 8:20 - And Jesus said to him, "Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head."

The Mumbai Metropolitan Region has a population of around 21.3 million, with 12.4 million in Greater Mumbai alone. An estimated 42% of that population lives in slums, in the most deplorable conditions with cramped spaces, narrow vermin-infested lanes, choked gutters, inadequate toilets, and residents exposed to a higher risk of disease, crime and social ills.

Slums have arisen in various parts of the city due to very high land costs and rent controls, coupled with an influx of migrants in search of economic opportunity, a lack of affordable housing, and a slow-moving public policy machinery unable to cope with the problem. While some slums are newer, dating back to the 1950s or 1960s, others are much older.

Dharavi, once known as Asia's largest slum until it was surpassed by others, dates back to the late 1800s, when the then British administration relegated so-called dirty industries such as tanning, metal-working and pottery, to what was, at the time, the outskirts of the city. While Dharavi has a very high population density, today larger slums exist elsewhere.

The United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) defines a slum household as a group of individuals living under the same roof who lack one or more of the following: housing made of durable and protective material; sufficient living space; easy access to clean water at an affordable price; access to adequate toilet facilities; and security of tenure that prevents forced eviction.

The slums in Mumbai, as elsewhere, exist on land that has been encroached by settlers over time—be it private, public, corporate or charitable Trust-owned lands. Over the years, the state has made laws and regulations to evict encroachers, upgrade structures, and/or rehabilitate the people living on encroached plots and resettle them onsite or elsewhere.