January 03, 2006

It will be smooth

Read this on the front page of the Hindustan Times today:
    Soon your stay in the roadside huts of Tulsi Pipe Road and P D'Mello Road will be safe. Gone will be the worry of protecting your kids from the streaking cars and trucks. ... In a bid to make life safe in important and long-standing city settlements, the BMC has decided to move traffic to alternate routes on civic property.

Oops, that was just a silly dream. What I really read on the front page of the Hindustan Times today was this:
    Soon your drive down Tulsi Pipe Road and P D'Mello Road will be smooth. Gone will be the worry that you might kill kids or people sleeping on the road at night. ... In a bid to make travel safer on important roads, the BMC has decided to swiftly rehabilitate pavement dwellers in reasonable housing just as close to their places of employment as they are now. Simultaneously, the BMC has decided to strictly enforce a 5 kmph speed limit on these roads.

Whoops-a-daisy! Another silly dream. No, what I really read on the front page of the Hindustan Times today was this (Tulsi Pipe Road slums could go):
    Soon your drive down Tulsi Pipe Road and P D'Mello Road will be smooth. Gone will be the worry of keeping clear of streaking kids from roadside huts. ... In a bid to clear enroachments on important roads and water lines, the BMC has decided to rebabilitate pavement dwellers on civic property.

10 comments:

uma said...

It's all about the point of view, no?

I was furious when I saw that paragraph.

zap said...

HT is read by the guys in the cars on that road. So that kind of language.
The slum dwellers get rehabilitated, the guys in the cars get a smooth drive. Sounds good.
Now if only what is reported does happen.

wise donkey said...

rebabilitate?:)

further down the article it mentions "As slum rehab projects, both the BMC and developers will benefit", and nothing about the dwellers.
"the BMC is hoping that developers will come forward to relocate the remaining pavement dwellers. " till then??

k.r.a.k.t.i.k said...

Hmm - well, why shoot the messenger? As someone mentioned, its all about the point of view. As someone else mentioned, the mentioned newspaper is just catering to its clientele.

We'd all like to read that first of three mentioned paragraphs ...

Neela said...

Dilip

Ref: para 2

1. Why do you suggest that slumdwellers be relocated close to current places of employment?

2. Why do you suggest that the BMC impose a 5 km speed limit on the road?

cheers

n!

Dilip D'Souza said...

WiseD, thanks for that uncovering that fine point.

Kraktik, I'm not so sure about the optimism in your last line.

Neela, actually I wrote (and deliberately), "just as close to their places of employment as they are now."

If they are relocated much further from their places of employment than they are now, they will likely return to the same spots from which we evict them.

The worst part about demolishing slums is not, in my opinion, the fact that they are demolished. It's the fact that they are demolished over and over again. If the houses were demolished and the people moved somewhere reasonable and left with no incentive to return, that would be something.

As for the 5 mph speed limit: the para says "Gone will be the worry that you might kill kids or people sleeping on the road at night", and "in a bid to make travel safer." One way of achieving those things, I dreamed, was a strictly enforced 5 kmph speed limit (at least till the people are moved and properly rehabilitated). Wouldn't you agree?

Akshay said...

Ludricous this.
The BMC defination of rehab is destroying their present accomodation and sometimes trying to relocate them to some far flung suburb. When they should actually teach them skills and get their children to school and give them a oppurtunity to rehabalitate themselves.

Neela said...

dilip,

on the living close to employment thing, i completely agree with your logic. however, i think the task is to convince the middle class man from dombivli or the lady from mira road who commute in a jampacked train everyday to work in town because they can't afford housing in south bombay or worli or bandra. or the person who moved from sion to thane because they couldn't afford to live there anymore so now their commute time is doubled.

As for the "if you demolish slums they will simply come back" well, by that logic, why shouldn't my thane friend come back to squat in sion??

I am truly sympathetic to the plight of the slumdwellers, but I do think we need to work out a solution tha tseems fair to all citizens. And by citizens, I don't mean only the 2 car, 3 bedroom elites of Bandra & South Bombay vs the slum dwellers but the vast hordes of train travelling, bus catching, 1 BHK living , income-tax paying citizens who stay in bhyander, dahisar and nala sopara.

cheers

n!

Tanuj said...

dilip, the reasons roads are built in the first place is to move people from point A to B in a locomotive vehicle such as a bus or a car or a bicycle. roads are not built to be playgrounds for kids or residential addresses. if people have converted roads to residences and playgrounds, the logical solution is not to shift and reconstruct roads (per your example in para 1). if we started closing down roads because kids run across them, we wouldn't have any roads left in bombay (and many other indian cities). or for that matter, any train tracks.

as for the 5 kmph limit (per para 2), given that the average human walking speed is close to that, we might as well open all roads to slum development and walk to work.

you say "If the houses were demolished and the people moved somewhere reasonable and left with no incentive to return, that would be something." dilip, this is a purely theoretical scenario. there will always be incentive for me to rebuild my house close to where i work. polite persuasion will not stop me from returning. also, what constitutes "somewhere reasonable" for me given that i am relocating from tulsi pipe road? hmm.. probably worli; worst case, somewhere in mahim. if not, forget it. status quo.

in my opinion, relocation with rehabilitation is the only way out. if some people have to be relocated from tulsi pipe road to bhayendar, so be it. they can travel everyday just like everyone else.

a related question for you: acting on a court order, the MCD recently started a demolition drive against illegal constrcution in delhi. several shops and residential buildings have been demolished; more will be. obviously, people will need to relocate. do you agree with the court's decision? do you think dilli-wallahs should be given alternative shops or houses "somewhere reasonable"?

Dilip D'Souza said...

Neela, people will live in ways that they can afford. If a slum dweller is removed from his dwelling and moved to a place so far from his job that he can't bear the cost, he's going to move back, or to some other place that's closer. A policy on slum removals that doesn't take this into account is one that will fail; and I suspect that's why some such policies have failed.

The same applies to the middle-class who live out in Bhayander or Thane. If the travel costs get unbearable, they will move somewhere where the costs are bearable.

OF course we need to work out a solution that seems fair to all. In my opinion, a solution that demolishes slums in occasional frenzies but does little else is a solution that is unfair to all.

Tanuj, my para 1 was not meant to be a "logical" solution. It was meant to ask, what if we looked at this not from the point of view of the people in cars as the HT report does, but the PoV of the people in the homes there. What would that tell us, if anything?

As for the 5 kmph limit, may I repeat what I said earlier: the para says "Gone will be the worry that you might kill kids or people sleeping on the road at night", and "in a bid to make travel safer." One way of achieving those things, I dreamed, was a strictly enforced 5 kmph speed limit (at least till the people are moved and properly rehabilitated). Wouldn't you agree?

I could not agree more: relocation with rehab. But where is the policy that does this, and sincerely and diligently? I am yet to see it (and I don't mean just with slums).

I agree with the Delhi decision, yes. But only as long as it is strictly enforced, once done. As long as the shopkeepers or whoever have no incentive to rebuild whatever got demolished. This is what I mean: I have nothing against demolishing slums, but then keep it that way. Move people in a way that they have no incentive to rebuild whatever got demolished (there or elsewhere, actually).

It's because this is not done that I've always felt that the way we demolish slums now is what perpetuates slums.