Mumbai is India’s financial capital. Government wants to make Mumbai in to a World class city in line with China’s Shanghai. The bane of Mumbai is the mushrooming of Slums, hence nick named Slumbai. Out of its burgeoning population of 15 million about 60 percent resides in Slums. The city continues to have influx of migrants from poor states like Bihar and Uttar Pradesh in search of green pastures. The local Marathi population grouse against the migrants is that they bring in cheap labor and alien culture whereby the local’s livelihood is threatened and also their culture is diluted. The city’s development and infrastructure is not able to cope with additional influx. The city is already experience water shortage making the police commissioner’s remark that there will be riots over water in future. The government has ambitions plans to make the city free of slums. It has floated slum redevelopment scheme meant for the slums dwellers by providing free housing.
Dharavi located in heart of the city is Asia’s largest slum area. Maharashtra government announced 90 billion Slum Redevelopment Scheme for people of Dharavi, but the scheme has run into various hurdles and still to take off. One of the reasons for slums to spread like cancerous growth is the nexus between local politicians and slumlords. The politicians use slums dwellers as vote bank by making false promises. Overflowing sewage drains, lack of sanitation, street side strewn with decaying garbage, kids squatting on roads sides, stench hitting the nostril, these are the scene one encounters visiting the slums in Mumbai.
People living in high rise building have little empathy towards these slum people where as they have no qualms hiring home maids and servants belonging to slums.
Over the past few years I had visited several slum areas, closely interacted with them and been able to have an insight of their problems which continue to get highlighted in my writings and photo-essays.