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Saturday, July 9, 2011

MURKY METROS: The other side of Mumbai!

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ANANTHAPRIYA SUBRAMANIAN / The Hindu / July 9, 2011.

Water: A scarce commodity in Mumbai slums. Photo: Rahi Gaikwad
Water: A scarce commodity in Mumbai slums. Photo: Rahi Gaikwad.

 In India's financial capital, almost 25,000 children under five die every year due to malnutrition and related illnesses. Whatever happened to the National Urban Health Mission?

The time of the year does not matter here. Monsoon or summer, the plastic cans are waiting for the waterman to arrive in Rafi Nagar, a slum settlement situated in Govandi, in the north-eastern area of Mumbai. In a city where space is at a premium, this settlement sits on top of its refuse. Every day, hundreds of tonnes of Mumbai's leftovers are dumped here. The garbage pile is regularly flattened to make space for the constant demand for shelter. Rafi Nagar is part of Shivaji Nagar, a resettlement colony that hosts the constant stream of migrants flowing into the city. The floors of the makeshift shacks are covered with cardboard sheets to keep the garbage down.
The residents here are mostly migrants from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar and have lived in Mumbai for more than 20 years. Yet, half the settlement in Rafi Nagar has not been given a legal status despite being promised. Hence the eternal wait for the water truck to arrive. When the water arrives, the wallets empty out. Filling up a 25 litre plastic can costs Rs. 20-25. Considering the average family income here is around Rs.3,000-4,000 a month, a sizeable chunk of it goes to buying precious water. And even then, a family can ill afford to buy 100 litres a day. According to the Mumbai Human Development Report 2009, Mumbaikars on average get 200 litres per capita daily (lpcd) of water, whereas slum residents get less than 90 lpcd.
Deadly combination
Creating local resources

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