Tag Archives: Mumbai

Mapping Toilets in a Mumbai Slum Yields Unexpected Results!!!-Advocacy Tool

Source: http://pulitzercenter.org/reporting/india-cheeta-camp-slums-sanitation-toilets-harvard-public-health-mapping

Dozen students from the Harvard School of Public Health  traveled to Mumbai in January to research life in the city’s slums. The mishmash of variables in high density city life make urban public health one of the most pressing and yet least understood aspects of global health. This is especially true in Mumbai, with over half the city’s population of more than 12 million living in slums. The site was Cheetah Camp- a planned slum in Mumbai.

Cheeta Camp is an Indian oddity — a planned slum. It was formed in northeastern Mumbai when an impoverished community was moved to make way for a government atomic research station. The displaced residents were given plots of land on which to settle, but no provision was made for basic infrastructure like sewers.

The residents of Cheetah Camp help up their  toilet facility membership card and stated the tale of the perpetually about-to-open toilet. Apparently, for the last 15 years or so, the toilet had been built, demolished and rebuilt three times.Each time, local politicians claimed that the lavatory facility would open “after the elections,” but that never happened. Instead, the residents told  the government workers would just tear it down and start to build a new one next time the elections rolled around.

The students thereafter decided to create a map of Cheeta Camp’s toilets (the interactive map can be found here). That meant two weeks tromping around the slum, figuring out where the toilets were located, who had put them up, how they functioned, and if they were even operational.

The students saw toilets as a way to delve into the inner workings of the community, to see what worked and what did not.

See the interactive map at https://maps.google.com/maps/ms?vps=2&hl=en&ie=UTF8&oe=UTF8&msa=0&msid=213281544174043702623.0004b617c56e89532fff9

So toilets were built ad hoc. The first thing the students found was that nobody really knew how many toilets were in the camp: the local authorities said one thing, local nongovernmental organizations another. So the students counted and mapped. They found 46 toilet facilities, containing 701 toilets, to serve Cheetah Camp’s 117,000-person population. Of these 46 facilities, 38 were functional. That means roughly one toilet per 170 people.

While a recent movement has sprung up over getting the government to provide more free public toilets, in Cheeta Camp, the Harvard students found that most people preferred the pay toilets. Unlike the free public toilets, the pay ones, which were generally provided by a nongovernmental organization, had water, electric light and were kept cleaner than government-run facilities — well worth their 1 or 2 rupee (2 or 3 U.S. cents) cost.

The fact that poor people are willing to pay for cleaner, safer toilets belies the typical portrait of the poor as helpless victims. The clean pay toilets seem to have made a difference: “Now we don’t have to spend so much on doctors. Previously we had to struggle a lot, but now are happier,” said Kanis Sayyed Hashim, a 45-year-old mother who has lived in the slum for 26 years and said her children get sick less now that they use the pay toilets.

By mapping the locations and functionality of the toilets, the students were echoing a process that had been used by slum dwellers organizations in India to force government to act. The act of naming streets, counting citizens and mapping facilities turns information into an advocacy tool.

By mapping the locations and functionality of the toilets, the students were echoing a process that had been used by slum dwellers organizations in India to force government to act. The act of naming streets, counting citizens and mapping facilities turns information into an advocacy tool.


Potable Water Solutions for Slum-Dwellers!- Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), Mumbai

Water solutions for Slum Dwellers- in Mumbai

Source: http://urbanpoverty.intellecap.com/?p=579

During the peak summer months, major Indian cities experience severe water shortages. The per-capita availability of waterhas fallen from 5,177 cubic meters in 1951 to 1,544 cubic meters in 2011. Despite the rainfall during the monsoon months, India has not done enough to conserve water for “off-season,” or dry season, usage. Where middle-income developing nations like China and Mexico have built large water storage facilities that store, on average, 1,000 cubic meters per capita, India’s per-capita storage is no more than 200 cubic meters.

In urban India, the segment of the population that is acutely affected by water shortages is slum-dwellers. When even legal residents of a city can experience infrequent access to water, the non-legitimized status of slum-dwellers worsens their access to the basic services that other urban citizens are privy to. Typically, there is a set time every day when water can be collected by all slum-dwellers, usually in buckets and pots filled from community taps. In 2002, the National Sample Survey Organization conducted a survey and found that in 84% of notified slums, the main water source is tap water supply. Though this statistic seems high, it effectively glosses over the differences in water access from state-to-state: in the state of Bihar, for example, not a single slum accessed water via tap at the time of the survey.

The Government and Urban Water Policy

In 1972, the government launched the Environmental Improvement of Urban Slums program that specifically prioritized potable water and sanitation services. In 1996, the government also established the National Slum Development Program to provide drinking water and community toilet facilities. The latter program persisted for nine years, but after spending INR3,100 crore (~US$560m) and helping approximately 46 million slum-dwellers, it was cancelled, presumably due to limited funding and lack of political support.

As urban borders expand, it becomes very clear that the water issue is one of insufficient water supply and inadequate access, not lack of government awareness of the growing water challenge. With few exceptions, the central government has treated access to water as part of urban infrastructure development; urban water supply has not been treated as a stand-alone issue in past and existing policy. The central government leaves such planning to city-level authorities. Water supply is governed by overworked local agencies that spend most of their budgets on subsidizing users or meeting administrative costs. Once these initial fiscal obligations are met, there is little funding to channel into further investment or maintenance of new or existing water lines. The private sector has played its part to make up for undersupply by bringing water to underserved areas via water tankers and tube wells, but some private sources (i.e., the “water mafia”) have been known to take advantage of undersupplied communities at a significant profit. Even if all private sector efforts were ethical, they are not enough, especially given rapidly depleting water tables.

Water Supply in Mumbai’s Slums

To understand the depth of insufficient water access and undersupply, the city of Mumbai is a prime example of the challenge. Over the last 20 years, rural-to-urban migration has exploded, as has the growth of slum communities. Most of these communities are concentrated in the city’s western suburbs – along main roads, railways, garbage dumps and on crumbling sidewalks. More than 60% of the city lives in slum communities, and less than 20% of slum-dwellers have access to potable water.

The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) manages the city’s water supply, but it does not have enough resources to meet the city’s demand, quality, access and management needs. Mumbai’s water networks are over 100 years old and poorly maintained. The networks supply water to nearly 88% of the city population, but this statistic is deceiving: water supply is erratic and unreliable, oftentimes available for no more than four hours per day in many areas. It has been reported that the BMC has recovered only 47% of what it spends on supplying water, where losses result from leakages, stolen water (one statistic cites a loss of at least 86 gallons daily), low tariffs and over-staffing.

Access to in-home piped water is a luxury that the middle and upper classes can afford, but is out of reach for low-income households. Approximately 30% of the city’s population does not have access to in-home piped water. There is a high cost associated with in-home water access, thus slum-dwellers rely on getting water from communal or public taps, purchasing BMC water at inflated prices from vendors or illegally procuring water from municipal supply lines. There is a pay-per-use system in place in most Mumbai slums, where slum residents pay US$0.25 (INR14) per liter; however, this is more than what most residents can afford on an ongoing basis.

Quenching the Thirst of Slum-Dwellers

ReachOut Water Solutions (ROWS), a not-for-profit development consultancy, has proposed a new kind of decentralized water infrastructure service in Mumbai’s slums. To understand the solution, though, one needs to probe the problem to grasp its meaning in slum communities.

The average slum household in Mumbai consists of 4.2 people and makes a total monthly income of about US$100 per month, or US$3.32 per day. On average, slum-dwellers spend US$1.50 per month on water. But slum-dwellers need more water: the BMC provides 30 liters per capita every day, but this is not enough to meet daily needs. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends “20 liters of potable water and 30 liters of non-potable treated water per person per day.”

It is not enough to say that slum-dwellers need more water every day, they actually need better access to water of improved quality. Many urban residents may rely on in-house piped connections or bottled water to fulfill their daily needs, but these options are too expensive for the average slum resident. And what water slum residents can access is not clean. According to ROWS’s research, 13% of BMC water reaching slum communities is contaminated with illness-causing bacteria causing more than six million cases of waterborne illness, 6,000 deaths and millions of hours of lost productivity every year.

The issues that exist around water supply, quality and access all point to water management deficiencies. Currently, the BMC does not provide in-home water access to more than four million slum residents. Since slums are ever growing and have high population densities, it is difficult for the BMC to provide consistent water services to all slum households. As mentioned above, the BMC has not been able to fully recover its costs due to system inefficiencies that further exacerbate the Corporation’s inability to make sufficient revenues. These inefficiencies include, for example, non-payment of water fees, pipe leakages and water theft. This is a vicious cycle: since the BMC cannot make the revenues it needs to break even, it does not have the resources to improve water services to the city’s slums. What is interesting to note, however, is that slum residents are clearly willing to pay some fee for water access: “illegal water middle men” thrive in slums by selling BMC water at increased rates. These are profits that could potentially go to the BMC or another legal service provider directly, but for the reasons outlined above, this revenue potential is being pocketed by profiteering third party providers.

The Slum Water Program Business Plan

ROWS has presented a slum water solution to the government based on a business model it has already proven in Mumbai with its Slum Sanitation Program (SSP). Through the SSP, ROWS has been able to provide 550 toilet blocks in slum communities, with support from the BMC and other community-based organizations. To date, ROWS claims 800,000 slum customers have paid for access to these community toilet facilities.

The Slum Water Program (SWP) will initially target its 800,000 SSP customers with the goal of meeting the water needs of at least 50% of slum-dwellers who do not have in-home piped water by 2025. ROWS cites four primary components of the SWP:

  • To provide 20 liters of treated municipal water and 30 liters of treated groundwater to SWP members, as well as a 10-liter pay-per-use potable option for non-members;
  • To remove 99.99% of bacterial contamination in provided water by using a small ultraviolet (UV) treatment device that is already widely used in rural India;
  • To set up a delivery system whereby sealed and compressible water containers will be made available to SWP members and pay-per-use customers at designated collection centers or home delivery for a small fee; and
  • To enable slum communities to manage the water services solution by working with the existing customer base that already pays for improved infrastructure services like SSP.

On a daily basis, ROWS’s goal is to provide sustainable, low-cost water to 1,500 SSP members and 200 pay-per-use customers. The water will be sourced from the BMC and from a bore well. Since ROWS has been successful in working with slum-dwellers and having them pay a fair price for services, the BMC has confirmed its interest in working with ROWS and is willing to install high-quality water lines in selected SWP locations. This would ensure 20 liters of potable water per person per day. The bore well will provide 30 liters of water per person per day, coming from groundwater that is available from Mumbai’s high groundwater table. Because this water is brackish, it cannot be used as drinking water, but it is safe to use for bathing and cleaning.

Water will be stored in large tanks located at the SSP building site. Each tank will hold enough water to supply daily demand. Municipal and bore well water will be stored separately. Municipal storage will include three 10,000-liter tanks to store 30,000 liters in total at one time. This amounts to approximately five hours of daily municipal supply, meeting the total need of 32,000 liters per day. The bore well storage will also include three 15,000-liter tanks to distribute 45,000 of non-potable water daily.

Both of the water sources, municipal and bore well, will be treated with UV units. Each unit kills 99.99% of disease-causing organisms and can treat 15 liters of water per minute. These treatment units are low-cost, with a capital cost of US$300 and an annual electricity cost of US$14. ROWS intends to use 10 UV devices to treat the 77,000 liters of daily water supply. Because the units are simple to use, staff can be easily trained to use and maintain them.

Once the water is ready for consumption, ROWS will provide a variety of distribution options to meet varied budgets and daily demand. Community customers will be the core of ROWS’s business. They can sign up for a monthly water plan and choose to have water delivered to their home via water taxi (auto-rickshaws ready for water container support) or they can pick up their water from the SWP site in 10- or 20-liter bottles. These customers can receive 50 liters of water per day either by delivery (for a fee) or pick-up.

Another option is to pay per usage. Some slum residents may not be able to afford the upfront monthly fee, but can buy water daily to spread the expense more evenly. Such customers can buy the SWP water from a designated street vendor in 10-liter bottles or directly from SWP locations in 10- or 20-liter bottles. The water bottles can be traded every day so that they can be cleaned by SWP and reused. There will be a US$0.40 deposit on each bottle, which customers will get back when they bring their empty bottle back to be traded in.

Implementing a New Water Strategy

ROWS has clearly identified what issues surround slum water supply and designed a model that incorporates free market economics, as well as a true partnership of players already working on the urban water provision scene. ROWS estimates that the total initial pilot investment of US$37,000 will be recovered over three years. The pilot operating costs will be US$1,300 per month with a total monthly income of US$2,600, translating into a monthly profit of US$1,300.

Upon consultation with the BMC, ROWS will execute a SWP pilot at a selected SSP toilet block to prove its business model. The pilot will help ROWS to further refine its model and strategy to be more efficient so that it can function properly as a franchise. The key here is ensuring consistency in services and to settle on the most appropriate and accessible pricing system. This is what is most remarkable about the ROWS business plan: the idea is to scale this model once it has been perfected and allow it to be owned by members of the slum community. If this model works well, there is vast potential for the same model to be duplicated to provide other services to slum communities, such as waste management.

ROWS is proving that it is possible to work with local authorities in providing tailored solutions for poor communities. Though there is not yet enough public data to shed light on how the project, and partnership, is functioning, the SWP is an example of a new way of approaching access to basic services. Hopefully, other organizations with similarly effective models in other underserved sectors will be able to step forward and prove the potential of innovative approaches implemented by efficient partnerships.










City Needs Land Auditing


In his Hindustan Times article “The city needs a landaudit,” Shalisesh Gaikwad references the Adarsh Housing Society Scam, a recent scandal in which Mumbai government officials constructed an apartment building for themselves on government land in Colaba under the guise of providing housing to retired personnel of Indian defense services.


In his article Gaikwad explains the controversy that has arisen between government officials who claim that the land they used for the new building in Colaba belongs to the state government and India’s Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) which calls the situation a “land grab” by the government.  In response to this debacle, Gaikwad notes other instances of fraud and corruption in recent Mumbai property dealings and he explains that the people of Mumbai should be concerned about the outcome of precedent-setting Adarsh since Mumbai’s egregious real-estate prices hang in the balance.  Gaikwad ends his article calling for an audit of public lands in Mumbai as a way to help formalize dealings of urban property and establish accurate records of land availability and ownership in the city.

 Indeed Gaikwad is correct that the people of Mumbai should be concerned about the outcome of the Adarsh case, but the rationale for their concern should transcend simply curbing city real-estate prices. More importantly, the people of Mumbai should be concerned that dispossessing individuals of land for “public benefit” prolongs the cramped and unsanitary conditions of slums and informal housing sites and brings down the overall livability and economy of the city. 

 A land audit is certainly a must, and it must include assessments of land ownership, plot size, vacant lots, and spaces that are “informally” occupied.  The past experience of the government’s Slum Rehabilitation Act (SRA) and Basic Services to the Urban Poor (BSUP) schemes has revealed that the identified lands that benefit the urban poor are often not correctly measured or the ownership of these lands is not defined. These omissions have not only lengthened the procedure for obtaining legal land clearances for relocation projects, but they have also resulted in forced evictions and fewer slum-dwellers able to stay in their homes because of inaccurate audit measurements.

 The land audit to come should aim to produce a digitized database of survey findings in addition to standard paper records of the audit results.  When records only exist in paper they quickly become outdated and remain accessible only in institutions like municipal corporations, land revenue departments, and tax revenue departments.  These departments often do not coordinate with each other, meaning that obtaining accurate information on the state of land ownership can be nearly impossible.  This in turn jeopardizes projects that are meant to benefit the urban poor.

 The hopeful land audit to come has the potential to provide easily-available, accurate, and updated land records for the public.  These records would be capable of serving myriad purposes: to identify ownership records, to locate vacant and available land for relocation and affordable housing projects, to feed into formulation of policies, schemes, and detailed project reports meant for the urban poor, among other benefits. Maintaining transparency in the audit process and the records that result from it will ensure fact-checked records for all concerned residents, civil society organizations, and the urban poor themselves.

Is higher FSI a solution for Slum Redevelopment Schemes?! New slum Policy in Mumbai!

Shared by Nidhi Singh nee Batra, PRIA

MUMBAI: The state government has formally increased the floor space index (FSI) for slum rehabilitation projects from 2.5 to a maximum of 4.

The state urban development department issued a notification on Friday after it got an approval from chief minister Prithviraj Chavan, who also heads the department.

As per the notification, projects involving all high-density slums-those having over 650 tenements per hectare-are entitled to an FSI of 4, whereas those with lower tenement density are entitled to 3.

Senior officials from the urban development department said that the notification highlights that all procedural formalities concerning the higher FSI move are now complete.

After the move to increase size of each rehabilitation tenement for slum dwellers from 225 sq ft to 269 sq ft in 2009, slum redevelopment projects were allowed higher FSI.

A notification under section 154 of the Maharashtra Regional and Town Planning Act ( MRTP), 1966, was issued at that time to allow it to implement the provision pending completion of procedural formalities, including invitation of suggestions and objections from citizens.

These procedural formalities have now been completed and a formal notification issued, a senior state official said.

FSI is a development tool that determines the extent of construction permitted on a plot. It is a ratio of permissible built-up to the total area of the plot. A higher FSI would allow developers additional construction on slum land.

As per the notification, approvals for redevelopment projects with higher tenement density will be cleared by the state government. The Slum Rehabilitation Authority (SRA) retains powers to approve schemes with lower tenement density.

Architect P.K. Das of Mumbai was however had once written that :

The Slum Redevelopment Authority (SRA) in its present form needs to be extinguished as it has become a cesspool of corruption and has completely deviated from its original mandate and has become a tool in the hands of the private builders. The principal of cross-subsidy and grant of TDR to the developer who rehabilitates the slums should continue but must be primarily promoted by the nodal government organizations like BMC, MHADA, Railways on whose land the encroachment has occurred. Development by private builders of slum lands must end as it has only resulted in skewed development.

What is the truth?!

At the same time, people are hopeful that Mumbai’s new slum rehabilitation policy may do away with developers’ proxy war!

With key infrastructure projects in Mumbai hitting a dead end as the rehabilitation of project-affected slumdwellers is turning increasingly complex, officials and urban planners are finally waking up to the need to rethink the government’s slum policy, egged on by the fact that with the poor success of existing schemes and growing slum population, the challenge of creating a slum-free financial capital is galloping out of reach.

In line with Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan’s view that monetising the value of encroached lands should bring something into state coffers, a new policy note under discussion suggests key departures from existing schemes. Returning the role of planning to the government, the proposed policy suggests that all of the city’s slums be divided into independently developed clusters of two to five hectares by a planning agency such as the Slum Rehabilitation Authority. These would be auctioned through a tendering process. Builders pre-registered with the government will be invited to apply for tenders in the form of built-up area to be handed over to the state and a premium that may be a percentage of the land value.

“While drawing up of clusters helps achieve comprehensiveness in planning, the proposed policy gives priority to people’s participation, calling for empanelled NGOs and architects, to be paid by the SRA or other agency, to assist in the formation of slumdwellers’ societies and drawing up of building plans,” said Principal Secretary (Housing) Gautam Chatterjee. “The involvement of the private sector comes at a later stage when the plan goes for bids. The same architect continues as a legacy to the developer.” Chatterjee says this could do away with proxy wars between developers — a key reason for litigation.

In the 15 years that the SRA has been at work in Mumbai, working on the existing cross-subsidy pattern under which private developers get incentive floor space index and the right to build free sale apartments in return for rehousing slumdwellers in situ, the agency has built less than 1,70,000 homes. That’s a far cry from not only to the city’s slum population of 8.6 million people, but also the original target of 5 lakh homes in five years.

Officials have pointed out that the Afzalpurkar committee report of 1995, based on which the SRA was designed, called for a comprehensive review after 10 years, which was never done. Experts say that the idea of a comprehensive, city-wide rehabilitation plan could solve the problem of only slums occupying high-value lands getting picked by developers.

Activists and urban planners are pleading that if a review of the SRA policy is finally being undertaken — and this would be the first review since the ‘free houses for slumdwellers’ policy was introduced in 1997 — then a piecemeal approach should be avoided this time.

“Whatever you may desire, slumdwellers declared ineligible for rehabilitation do not disappear into thin air,” says Simpreet Singh, an activist with the Ghar Bachoa Ghar Banao Aandolan. Any new policy must first rethink the free homes policy, he stresses, adding that the policy is an incentive to corruption among builders, officials and slumdwellers, leading to inflated lists of beneficiaries and dummy slumdwellers.

Mumbai airport’s private operators and government officials trying to get other projects off the ground admit that the problem of post-1995 slumdwellers is a crucial one. But a committee under the chief secretary formed in the aftermath of a protest in the suburban Golibar area did not yield a concrete solution.

The policy suggests that all slumdwellers be rehabilitated, but incentive FSI be limited to those deemed eligible as per current laws. That could mean mandating post-1995 slumdwellers to pay something for their new homes, a politically untenable proposition. “The problem until now has been that poll promises are designed to woo slumdwellers while policy has been designed to woo builders,” said a Congress leader from a slum constituency.

Blueprint for ‘Self Redevelopment’ of a fishing village at Juhu-Mumbai

Source: Hindustan Times, KRVIA, TISS

 Out on the beach near a fishing village in Juhu, authentic Koli cuisine made from fresh fish is on sale at colourful, eco-friendly stalls. Down a broad, curving street, four-storey buildings with indoor plumbing and running water have replaced the crumbling, cramped homes and common toilets. These buildings are built around common courtyards, with common verandahs encircling each floor.

 Below each building is a common storeroom where the resident fishermen can keep their nets, ropes and tackle. On special occasions, these spaces can be cleared out and used to host community events and functions.

This is the Moragaon koliwada or fishing village, as envisioned in a redevelopment plan set forth by a group of 40 fourth-year architecture students and two faculty members of Kamla Raheja Vidyanidhi Institute of Architecture and Environmental Studies (KRVIA). Work on the plan began early last year.

“Our land is prime property, so we are constantly under pressure from builders to sell out,” says fisherman and Moragaon resident Rajesh Mangela. “Most of us want to self-develop the area and safeguard our land, our lifestyle and our culture, so we decided to seek help.”

Accordingly, members of the local fishermen’s cooperative, Juhu Moragaon Machchimar VKSS Ltd, approached the architecture institute, asking if they could study the 26,500-sq-metre area and provide a blueprint for self-development.

The institute took up the request, assigning it to fourth-year students as the annual project. The students began their research in June 2011, with help from students of the Tata Institute of Social Science (TISS), who conducted surveys to explore the residents’ infrastructural and social needs.

The resultant plan seeks to strike a balance between modernity and a traditional lifestyle, also drawing on existing skills such as cooking to augment the dwindling income from fishing.


The key problems that both groups of students identified are common to most of Mumbai’s 38 fishing villages.

Banned from building more than two storeys, large joint families of up to 10 people are crammed into spaces ranging from 250 sq ft to 1,000 sq ft.

There is no indoor plumbing, water supply is scarce in the common taps and there aren’t enough common toilets for the growing population.

The narrow, winding lanes cannot accommodate any road traffic.

“We wanted to avoid involving private developers because they would not be interested in preserving the traditional lifestyle and culture of the fishermen but would rather build high-rises to make maximum profits,” says Rupali Gupte, associate professor at KRVIA.

So, instead, the KRVIA plan envisions cluster redevelopment spearheaded by the local community. The actual construction would be done by a building contractor, with financial assistance from central government schemes such as the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission and Rajiv Awas Yojna, which offer funds to initiatives that seek to improve urban areas. To secure and use these funds, a partnership would need to be formed between the residents and the local authority, in this case the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation.


There are two roadblocks facing this plan, however.

First, the koliwada does not have enough land to implement the plan, since a third of the land allocated to these fisherfolk in the 1980 Development Plan is marshland.

The redevelopment plan suggests that the state allot an adjoining playground to the koliwada in lieu of this marshland, and grant the Kolis additional development rights so that they can build higher and accommodate their families on this land.

The second problem is one that is common to most of Mumbai’s fishing villages — the 5,000 residents are divided over their redevelopment aims.

At Moragaon, there are currently three groups — one sought out the KRVIA proposal and is working on it with them, a second is considering coming on board but fears that it would not be able to afford the as-yet-undetermined contribution required, and a third is in favour of handing over the land to a private developer and settling for a flat in a high-rise.

For now, the existing plan is being fine-tuned, after which they will present it to the government together.

“This is an ongoing project and we as an institute will now work towards bringing the three groups to a consensus,” says Gupte. “Then, we will work on getting the government on board.”