Mumbai - The Roofless City
the capital of the state of Maharashtra is often reffered to as
the financial or commercial capital of the country. The city lights
not only offer glamour and entertainment but also opportunity. Over
the years it has attracted a large number of people from all over
the country. Its area of about 437 sq.km houses a population of
about 11 million people. The pace of urbanisation has left far behind
the efforts and initiative of planners, local bodies and civic authorities.
The city has skyrises juxtaposed with one room tenements. Everywhere
the eye goes one only sees buildings. The city has very aptly been
called a concrete jungle. But inspite of buildings, hutments and
shanties covering available space, houses are in short supply. One
has often heard, "This city gives you everything except a roof over
your head". This fact can be attributed to the structure of the
city. The city is surrounded by water on all sides and growth occurs
only in a linear manner. This is aggravated by constant inflow of
people looking to fulfill their dreams and seeking their pot of
Hiranandani. a prominent builder in the city says, "Roti,
Kapda aur Makaan are essential needs of mankind. In Mumbai, the
majority live in inhuman conditions. I believe the citizens are
able to get food and clothing but we are not able to provide the
requisite shelter to our citizens. Maharashtra now requires not
only reform but 'Kranti', revolution."
There have been number of deliberations, a number of legislations
passed totry and ensure adequate and quality shelter for majority
of the citizens of the city but the effort falls short either through
short sightedness and lack of initiative on the part of the governing
bodies or simply due to the magnitude of the problem.
Chief secretary, Government of Maharashtra, V. Ranganathan,
says, "Maharashtra is the most urbanised state in the country,
contributing 10% of GDP. Good housing is not merely for comfort
but is essential for economic and social development. If we have
to attract the best talent and industries in competition then housing
is paramount. Identification of key areas, Coastal Regulation Zones,
Rent Control, Rehabilitation of Slums and Reassessment of Stamp
Duty are important. Since economic slowdown is evident revenues
and taxes cannot be be cut down but regulations and paperwork procedures
can definitely be simplified. Decision making should be such that
it can be delegated to the lowest level. Single window clearances,
enforcement of time limitations and use of modern technology are
areas that need to be focussed on. But above all there has to be
an attitudinal change."
Coastal Regulation Zone(CRZ) Notification was issued in February
1991 by the Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of
India for the protection of the country's coastal environment.
The implications of CRZ for the housing scenario in Mumbai is far
reaching and is controversial for the same reason. Being surrounded
by the sea on all sides a large stretch of area is restricted from
development. Lack of rental housing, levy of stamp duty, lack of
control of rent, cessed properties and property taxes are other
issues that have all contributed towards hampering the efforts of
providing all citizens of the city with a house.
Vilasrao Deshmukh, Chief Minister, Government of Maharashtra,
says, "The administration needs to gear up, change themselves
and look at every needy person as a customer. The State Government
considers housing as a priority sector. Whether it is rehabilitation
of slums or reconstruction of over 19000 old and dilapidated and
cessed buildings in Mumbai, the State Government believes the solutions
must be acceptable to the beneficiaries. The State Government has
recently taken a decision to computerise the registration of documents
relating to transfer of property which will enable people to get
back their documents in a matter of minutes. There is a demand often
made by the people that the levels of approval should be reduced
in the Municipal Corporation and the files should go to as minimum
number of officers as possible. I think this demand is justified
and deserves a serious thought."
people who can make a difference are aware of what needs to be done.
They are aware of the activities that need to be done and of their
limitations in fulfilling their promises. Inspite of the hardships
faced by the average Mumbaikar in getting a roof over his head,
Mumbai continues to fulfill its promise of offering opportunity
to all who come looking and though "Ek ghar banaonga" continues
to be an unrealised dream, there is a ray of hope. A hope that there
will be a home for all the homeless and quality housing for all.
A hope that Mumbai continues it's ascent towards being the city
of gold, it is fabled to be.
Text and Pics by: Supriya