The Afzulpurkar Committee, which preceded the formation of Mumbai’s Slum Rehabilitation Authority (SRA) in 1995, noted in their study that “an authorized dwelling unit is a first step in the right direction” for enhancing the living standards of the city’s slum dwellers. The study also said that slum-dwellers had been forced to live in shanty structures and unhygienic environment “as they were thrown out of the formal housing sector, the latter being unaffordable”.
Yet when the SRA came to Shahid’s Mariamma Nagar in 2002, these conditions, instead of changing, only got aggravated. “Most of the people who had given their land for further constructions are not given fair spaces to live,” Shahid says. Moreover, he claims, their land is declared illegal despite having all the required documents.
Since the SRA’s construction was not complete and Shahid’s family of eight found it difficult to live in their small accommodation, his parents used their savings to buy another house in the area. The house, they later learnt, was illegal. 13 years after the rehabilitation scheme was initiated in their area, not only had Shahid’s family not been rehabilitated, their savings too had been spent. In March last year, a 17-year-old Shahid then took on the mantle of solving this problem not only for his own family but also for others living in the area. This is his story.
Banner image credit: Punit Paranjpe/ Stringer/Getty