Shabana Azmi and NGO Nivara Hakk have built homes for 40,000 people in Chandivli, reportedly the largest single rehab project in Asia. It was a tripartite agreement with the state government and a private builder.
“The government was planning to oust three lakh people settled in the Sanjay Gandhi National Park in Borivli. We took the matter to the Supreme Court that recognised the rights of 40, 000 slum dwellers to receive alternate accommodation,” Azmi informs.
The authorities wanted to pack them off to Kalyan and Shindoh. “My colleagues, Gurbir Singh and P K Das, faced bulldozers and
charges by the demolition squads. The late Anna Kurien was jailed. We were finally able to convince Sharad Pawar and Vilasrao Deshmukh to give us the Chandivli project. This is the first time that slum dwellers have been moved towards South Mumbai to improve their chances of employment,” says Azmi.
Not one-way please!
Four thousand of these 225-square foot homes with attached baths were handed over in 2007 and 12,000, more recently. The township is far superior to any other Slum Rehabilitation Association projects.
Azmi points out that slum dwellers will pay more for water and electricity: “They work in our homes and factories. We can’t have a one-way relationship. Housing is not just brick and mortar, it’s a social issue which brings into play all the contradictions of community living.”