Eating is an agricultural act - Wendell Berry

Thursday, April 12, 2007


slum demolition time again.
this time in a new area. this time there is no recourse. this time, just watch houses and lives torn asunder.
the location was south bombay and right in the middle of what was once healthy mangrove areas.
the classical reclamation happens when the swampy areas are filled with earth and/or with construction debris. thats how the 7 islands were combined and how the famous backbay and bandra reclamation happened.
but in this area, the filler was garbage. tons of plastic plates and bags and total junk have been used to cover the swamp. then the houses are constructed on stilts as the floor is still wet and muddy. wish i had a camera to capture the vistas.
totally inhuman.
but a bunch of houses had been built in this area on top of the sewage exit gutter thus rendering it useless. this caused sewage to spew out of the manholes in the slightly inland slum area causing major grief.
so these hutments were being cleared.

the gentleman in the title saw me and casually remarked to his neighbour (in tamil) that a reporter had come !! gotcha mate.
really suave guy. we chatted on tamilnadu politics, mumbai livelihoods, tsunami and local geography and the current demolitions.

he was a farmer in villupuram and landed up in debt of 2 lakhs due to continuous crop failures (then we talked about vidharba farmer suicides). to avoid his debtors and to make up he moved to bombay, bought out this place (illegal, of course) and works as a driver in the docks. over the last 7 years he claims to have made the money and repaid his loans.

his candour was amazing and he was clear that this is a temporary phase and he will have to move out (may be back to tamilnadu) pretty soon. as he is a post 1995 settler, he has no claim to alternate tenancy by the slum rehabilitation schemes.

survival instincts does strange things to people.

p.s: news report from DNA:


Preeti Aghalayam aka kbpm said...

the man who knew infinity, surely..

csm said...

and who knew zero as well.

Vanessa said...

Where would these people go and how would they survive now?

csm said...

sometimes after demolitions, the security slacks off a lot, then they reset at same place.

but here, this is what i expect. for some time, they my hang out at the fringes of the area, like on footpaths, parks, etc.
with little chance of a reset, they will then be forced into looking at alternate locations in mumbai. the slumlords/dadas will be around to set them up somewhere at a neat sum (say Rs 50K).

if relatives re around, then a little respite for few days.

most of them will probably move out of the city limits and even back to their 'mulk' (homeland).