Slum Rehabilitation Society (SRS) has had prior achievements in the field of resettlement and rehabilitation. (One of these even received the Best Practices Award in 2004).Hence, it was included as NGO (Non Government Organisation) partner on the Resettlement and Rehabilitation project of the Government Agency, MMRDA.
MMRDA (Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority) is in charge of the Mumbai Urban Infrastructure Project (MUIP) and the Mumbai Urban Transport Project (MUTP).
Background and Objective
Situation before the initiative began
Fourteen slums occupied the area of a proposed freeway which is expected to relieve traffic congestion along the Eastern suburbs.
These areas held approximately 7545 families who lived in difficult and hazardous conditions, in slums spread overhills and close to industrial establishments.
Establishment of Priorities
Public awareness and engaging people’s participation were the first priority. Next, information was disseminated on the terms and conditions of eligibility; sites had to be selected for rehabilitation; Formation and registration of housing societies, women’s groups and environment committees were undertaken. A study of the economic impact of the project was also undertaken.
At every stage people’s participation was sought and included.In formulating policy, it was stated that women should have joint ownership of the new housing . This was to strengthen women’s rights and claims to the houses.
Formulation of objectives and strategies
SRS’ main objectives were to secure an improved lifestyle for Project Affected People.
While the city would benefit from improved infrastructure, SRS’ objectives were to ensure that PAPs received alternate accommodation with ownership title to secure, hygienic homes and surroundings. It was also SRS’ objective to ensure that the rights of vulnerable groups in the community were upheld and that people were educated and trained to form and administer housing societies,women’s groups, savings and self help groups.
SRS initiated a gender specific objective to make women co-owners i.e joint signatories on the title deeds to their homes.
The criteria established for enumerating and classifying PAPs has city wide applicability. It takes into consideration the ownership status of structures;business and commercial establishments; is designed to enable appropriate compensation to displaced persons.
Mobilisation of Resources
The Mumbai Urban Transport Project (MUTP) and a parallel project, Mumbai Resettlement and Rehabilitation are undertakings of the Government of Maharashtra with part financing from the World Bank.
Slum Rehabilitation Society’s role is that of consultant to MMRDA ¡V Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority under whose aegis the MUTP runs.
SRS specializes in field level work with the local, slum dwelling communities whose best interests are of prime importance. SRS continues to work closely with the local people who originally were field contacts in the slums but who,over the years, have evolved into members / leaders of housing societies, women’s groups and other local civic bodies.
Social amenities such as rooms for a kindergarten, welfare centre and a housing society office per 100 units of housing are the wealth that must be managed by the community for the good of all its members. SRS initiates, trains and facilitates the community utilization of these resources by setting up pre-school learning units, forming housing societies and training women’s groups to set up and manage Income Generation Activities.
Actions and Implementation
Problems: Lack of legislation and experience concerning the resettlement of Project affected Persons in urban areas was complicated further by the PAPs lack of title to the land they occupied. The land was crowded and infrastructure was run down -- incapable of effectively dealing with an ever increasing population, shortfalls in information concerning the slum communities was dealt with by using the following
1. Appointing a Task force to recommend a policy frame work, institutional arrangements and an implementation strategy.
2. Initiating baseline socio-economic surveys which SRS carried out. These surveys explored the social, economic, physical and cultural factors that influence the affected people. Attention was paid to vulnerable groups in the community namely women headed households and handicapped persons.
3. Community participation and Focus Group meetings were used to share information(particularly on compensation packages, R&R measures and alternative sites)and to receive feedback (especially from women and other target groups).
Vulnerable groups of PAPs were identified in order to ensure that they would receive special monitoring during the phase of resettlement and rehabilitation.
Outcomes and Impacts
From the insecure , unhygienic conditions of life in a slum, PAPs, who have become owners of secure, legal ,safe and sanitary homes, find themselves in a position in which they aspire to a better life all round.
Not only do parents seek education for their children, but they demand that education be delivered in the English language. This brings children into the mainstream, onto an equal level with other children who opt for English as the medium of instruction.
Women who formerly spent much time traveling to and from a water source to collect the day’s minimum requirement , now find themselves with free time to use in self improvement programmes and in generating additional income to fulfill hitherto unreachable goals.
Participation in the administration and activities of their Housing Societies gives people a civic consciousness, that readily extends from the micro to macro levels.
Several rehabilitated PAPs have invested in beautification of their homes. This is an affirmation of their pride of ownership and an indication of their intention to settle here and enjoy their new homes.
Sustainability and Scalability
SRS is committed to thesustainability of the Resettlement and Rehabilitation project. The AnikPanjarapol Link Road project is just one of four projects at which SRS is involved in delivering secure, safe, legal and hygienic homes to slum dwellers who were displaced by the city wide Infrastructural improvements.
At APLR, as at all the other R&R sites, where we partner with MMRDA sustainability is affirmed in the initiatives established such as :--
- Formation of Housing Societies,Women’s groups and savings groups. These ensure the long-term ownership of homes and an ongoing progressive spirit of community. Common spaces are cared for, cultural events that demonstrate diversity are celebrated and social inclusion is benefitted.
- Establishment of Income generatingactivities: Additional income helps to finance the costs that improved housing brings with it. This, as well as Self Help / Savings Groups, make finance possible, reducing the temptation to sell out and move to another slum.
- Installation of Social Amenities: For every hundred units of housing SRA (Slum Rehabilitation Authority) policy demands that there should be a Balwadi (pre-primary school), a welfare centre and a society office. This furthers the community spirit, provides services that the community needs and improve the status of the residents. As local communities will be the ultimate owners of their social amenities, Housing Societies and Women’s Groups are included in the establishment and administration of projects and programmes so that, when SRS withdraws at the specified time, there is no break in their continuity.
- Negotiating the shifting of places of worship to acceptable alternate sites. Harmonious relationships across diverse religious groups are the outcome of personal interaction and trust that SRS has generated over the years.
Gender and Social Inclusivity
SRS and MMRDA have been engaged in improving the living environment of the city and it’s residents particularly the slum dwelling segment that constitutes 60 % of the population.
While MMRDA provides the technology,the finance and the administration for the construction of the infrastructure SRS’ experience from it’s own previous projects has been useful in indicating the way forward on ongoing tasks and activities. These tasks have their application at several other sites around the city.
As outlined in the section ---¡¥Lessons learned’, keeping the welfare of Human Beings central to the work we undertake, focusing on the vulnerable groups in the community , in fact giving prime value to Human life in the community is a principle that has an unlimited application irrespective of passing trends and fashions .
SRS has pioneered various initiatives in the field of slum rehabilitation and housing prior to the Resettlement and Rehabilitation projects with MMRDA.
The many years of experience thus gained have taught us some valuable lessons :--
Lesson I :-- People are Central to their own Development.
Lesson II :-- Women are the chief beneficiaries in the communities.
Lesson III :-- How to retain the spirit of community .
Lesson IV:-- Prevent people from selling out.
A few re-housing projects by other agencies in the city had proved that arbitrary eviction and resettlement gave negative results. SRS’ first project which began in 1972 recognized people’s role in their own development and worked for their inclusion at every level.
It is women who face the most hardship in slum dwellings. The non-availability of water or the timings when it is available dictate the use of women’s time. Poor sanitation and the lack of privacy take a toll on women’s health.
Proper Housing eliminates these problems and the life of women can become easier. Hence women are more committed to retaining their improved homes. Facilitating their efforts to do so becomes that much more beneficial.
Where geographical and demographic factors combined to compel the construction of high rise structures, efforts were made to retain the spirit of community that slums had provided. Social Amenities are one way of doing this : for every 100 units of housing, a Balwadi(pre-primary school) , a welfare centre and an office for the Housing society are provided. SRS was doing this from 1972 before the Slum Rehabilitation Authority (SRA) was established in 1995
Those who oppose housing for slum dwellers claim that they sell their new homes and move into slums elsewhere. In a few extreme cases of dire financial need, where this could happen, initiatives such as savings groups and income generating activities reverse this trend. Furthermore sellers do not always moving to slums but upwards to housing that is more appropriate to their aspirations.
A city criss - crossed with flyovers and a plethora of infrastructural innovations speak of advances in technology¡Kcolonies of rehabilitated former slum dwellers speak of years of interaction,concern for the living environment and the people who populate it.
People have homes that they own, not merely spaces bounded by concrete walls but homes that permit them to dream and achieve boundless aspirations, not only as individuals, but as communities.