By Accommodation Times Bureau
Opposition from slum-dwellers, of the huge encamped hut-colonies of Mumbai slums ,threatens to put at risk the world’s largest biometric slum survey that is under way in the city.
The survey started in March last year. Enumerators have been able to gather information from barely 336 slum clusters of the 3,316 identified in the city, because they are often threatened, dishonored, sometimes even violated and assaulted. It’s very hard to finish and compile such surveys in slums.
Officials of the Slum Rehabilitation Authority (SRA) gave information that 1.24 lakh out of the 7 lakh slum structures, have so far been marked and identified, which means only about 17% of these have been covered. The survey team is tasked with knocking on the door of every structure, numbering it with paint and completing a biometric survey of each member of the family.
“At this pace, it will take another three to four years to cover the entire city,” SRA CEO Vishwas Patil said.
Slum-dwellers in the hut-colonies such as in Deonar in the eastern suburbs and Majas in Jogeshwari “aggressively opposed” the surveyors. Behrampada in Bandra (east) is another no-go area, one where no builder has succeeded in redeveloping the slum. Activists describes living conditions there are “sub-human” and “wretched”.
“At some places, we are threatened and told not to enter the slum,” said B I Kendre, SRA chief co-ordination officer (biometric survey cell). “They think we have represented some builder.”
There have been instances when a slum-dweller would rudely inform the enumerator that he has two wives, and so he should get two tenements when the slum is taken up for redevelopment.
Within some slum clusters, residents are subordinated to rival builders.
“They feel we belong to the rival group and they stopped us” a ground-level surveyor said.
Last year in Deonar, staff were threatened, abused and assaulted, sometimes in the presence of police escorts. “It has been a complete no-go area for us,” a surveyor, Sumit Kulkarni, had told some months ago.
The enumerators can count 1,000 huts a day, but have been able to barely cover 400.
The survey was established to have a record of the eligibility of slum-dwellers, when their enclaves are taken up for redevelopment by private builders. The government aims to eliminate all slum areas in Maharashtra by 2022 and the decision to go for the project in the city was taken in 2015 .