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HomeOpinionDiaryCan Mumbai be free of slums?

Can Mumbai be free of slums?

In a metropolitan city like Mumbai where real estate prices are high the common man is finding it difficult to own a house within the city. Due to the scarcity of land in the city every open space is being encroached. Therefore, we can find the proliferation of slums in the upmarket areas of the city as well as distant suburbs. Often slum lords encroach upon the open spaces build shanties and sell them to migrants who arrive in the city in search of livelihood. Migrants find it difficult to purchase a home in the city due to expensive real estate prices. Hence they choose to stay in slums. Even rich people require the assistance of maids and cooks so many of them get accommodated near to the area where affluent sections of the society reside.

More than 50 per cent of the Mumbai’s population reside in slums. As we travel by suburban trains we can find a proliferation of slums near railway tracks and people defecating in the open. Various studies have been conducted to make Mumbai slum-free but most of them remain restricted on paper due to shoddy implementation. Political parties too are responsible for increasing slums in the city. Slum dwellers are considered as the vote bank by political leaders. Parties often campaign in slum pockets of the city and woo them by promising to offer water, electricity, DTH connection and several other amenities.

Whenever the government tries to demolish slums for carrying out developmental work opposition parties always try to intervene and halt the demolition work to support slum dwellers. Most of the slum dwellers residing in the city are not poor and are well educated but they struggle to find proper housing in the city. Dharavi which is situated in the heart of the city is known as Asia’s largest slum. Most of the houses in this area lack toilets as people have to form a queue for using public toilets. Garbage is disposed in a haphazard manner outside bins.

Most of the housing projects in the city cater to the premium and luxury segment as very few exist for the lower middle-class sections of the society. The Maharashtra government has planned to make Mumbai free of slums by 2022. However, the manner in which slums are mushrooming in the city it will be difficult for the government to achieve this objective. Steps must be taken by the government to create adequate housing options for low and middle-class income sections.

(The views expressed by the author in the article are his/her own.)

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