In a fresh scrutiny of the existing land use (ELU) survey, city organisations have found 227 errors in the maps of the M ward. The maps particularly err in depicting the large slum areas the M-East ward, which is incidentally known for having the lowest human development index in the city.
The Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), YUVA, Apnalaya and Stree Mukti Sanghatana (SMS) together scrutinised the ELU. They found that the maps ignore not just slums, but also areas that form the sources of livelihood for the urban poor in the area. Hindustan Times had earlier reported how the land use maps were not mapping slums at all — a move that invited widespread criticism.
Experts said these omissions reflect the civic body’s problematic attitude towards the urban poor. Slums occupy 3,430 hectares of the 41,395-hectares city, too sizeable an area for it to be left unmarked.
The organisations’ study of the M-ward points out that slum clusters, villages and centres of primary employment activities are nowhere to be seen in the maps. There are many instances of open spaces being marked as vacant land, while social and other public amenities are marked as slums.
Government offices, which implement poverty alleviation schemes within slums, are also conspicuous by their absence. An integrated child development scheme office in Chembur and a civic health post in Mankhurd have both been marked as residential properties.
“It is very problematic to know that a city’s development blueprint seeks to willingly leave out a vast majority of its people, by showing slums as being homogeneous. Slums need a development plan much more posh localities do,” said Marina Joseph, TISS.
Others said by refusing to acknowledge the poor’s informal livelihood, the development plan’s purpose was rendered incomplete. “The ELU doesn’t mark villages or informal sectors of employment. As a result, a huge chunk of citizens are left out of the city’s planning,” said Dhanraj Khare from YUVA.