Slum Bombay: Arvind Adarkar and P.K. Das at Sangharsh Nagar, Dindoshi
Director: Ralli Jacob, Rafeeq Ellias, P.K. Das; Cinematographer: Rafeeq Ellias
Duration: 00:21:28; Aspect Ratio: 1.366:1; Hue: 7.070; Saturation: 0.123; Lightness: 0.232; Volume: 0.077; Cuts per Minute: 1.351; Words per Minute: 111.868
Summary: Sangharsh Nagar was set up in the year 1990-91 for the people who were evicted from Sanjay Gandhi Nagar, Nariman Point in the year 1986. After months of struggle, finally the government agreed for their rehabilitation, for which a deal was done with the land holder F E Dinshaw Trust and 3.5 acres of land was allotted to the residents. The interview contains details of the possible options being considered for future development, the challenges ahead and the opinions of the residents about the housing models being proposed.
Sangharsh Nagar was set up in the year 1990-91 for the people who were evicted from Sanjay Gandhi Nagar, Nariman Point in the year 1986. After months of struggle, finally the government agreed for their rehabilitation, for which a deal was done with the land holder F E Dinshaw Trust and 3.5 acres of land was allotted to the residents.
The interview contains details of the possible options being considered for future development, the challenges ahead and the opinions of the residents about the housing models being proposed.
Arvind Adarkar: What you see here is the plan of Sangharsh Nagar, the land of about three and a half acres was allocated. Which was a big dump and the Sangharsh Nagar sanghatna has over years reclaimed it. Its about 4 years now. And then now we have been thinking about putting up the structures on this land, which had nothing earlier and lot of thinking has been going into it because there is a talk of organised mass housing with lot of fiance going into it. But here we have a peculiar situation where we find that there are about 300 families who are in which we find people of different languages, there is a income disparity, there are various groups and subgroups and so on. And also this organised finance will bring in the loan (liabilities, which everyone within this Sanghatna is not willing to face. And therefore one has to resolve and take certain decisions and with that in mind we have designed a kind of housing which will give a freedom to an individual and his development of his own structure can then keep up pace with the economic betterment.
Arvind Adarkar: You will see further in this plan, one tries to give them a kind of a plinth with the core of toilets in the centre with the adjacent open spaces and then the structure which is separated. So, 4 families can stay here and they can start their own development meaning they can have their own keeping in... I mean taking into consideration their own economic capability they can even have house made of tin sheets or probably some bricks temporary structure, and as they go on bettering their own income capability they can go on for making these houses pakka
permanent ones. And then even have the possibility of going upward - there's upward mobility also - you can have the uppers storey also. I think it can come out better in this model.
Arvind Adarkar: Now what one sees here in the centre of this is the toilet core of the toilet structures. Then what one sees here are immediate open spaces which the family can use. And these are actually the structures which are constructed by those families. The idea is that they construct themselves - only the plinth and toilet core is given and these structure then can go on becoming better and better over years, and this gives the freedom. This means this person if he starts increasing more and starts making his house better then can construct this upper storey. Whereas this person can still go on making his house better as he also goes on. So, there is no problem in the sense that there is no inter dependency that means if one person becomes better start earning better money then he doesn't get stuck with the other one - that's generally the idea and... we have a very strong feeling that the this will not involve the mass finance that is required. And therefore, will give them a lot of freedom and stake in this whole thing - that's how we look at it.
Arvind Adarkar: This is a model which generally explains the concept of these structures as well as this can briefly explain also the philosophy... or the ideology that goes into the planning. What one sees here again is... this is a toilet core, the immediate open spaces which are to be used by the families who are staying here and these are the 4 independent structures. So, this is another core another group, group of... another cluster of the poor houses around the toilets. And there is... now the most important aspect of this is that since the structures are separated there is freedom - individual freedom to build irrespective of the shackles of finance, which would be otherwise going into these kind of structures.
Arvind Adarkar: One can construct the way one wants. In the sense if this person is earning better he constructs a little pakka
house, he uses bricks. But if this person doesn't have the money he can definitely go in for a construction of a tin sheet housing as he goes on his prospects become better he starts earning more money this can gradually become the brick structure.
P.K. Das: One of the important things that we are aiming through this particular project is that though we are allowing a kind of for the very objective of the housing and individual expression, and individual freedom to build. As Arvind has already explained as per the individual's financial requirements, functional requirements and other means that they have. But overall as a neighbourhood, as a colony, or as Sangharsh Nagar we as architects are in fact developing a total planning concept which integrates these individual attempts, in a holistic manner, in an expression it sort of reflects a oneness and I think that is what is really important. So, it is a kind of a oneness which we are establishing within which there is this tremendous variety of expression and freedom. And I think this is what is really the central housing philosophy and the thrust in this particular project.
Arvind Adarkar: And the diversity also will bind them together.
P.K. Das: Yes, Yes
P.K. Das: Our main objective in this program, is to split the 2.5 acre plot allocated for housing into many small planned plots. Thus, If we give each family a plot, then each can plan its house according to their own financial ability. Someone may have more money, someone may have less money - this difference exists and it is real. But it does't mean we have to widen this gap or difference between us, but we build houses according to those differences. But our plan's objective, which Arvind and I and other architects worked on together, is that while building various types of houses according to our plan, to finally give it a single form. As in, in the end when Sangharsh Nagar homes are built, it will finally be of a single form. That would be symbol of unity. There is Behind every home is the same objective, though the external faces of the houses may be different.
Arvind Adarkar: Even though our financial status is different, we will live together. We will improve our homes gradually as and when our financial status improves. This (program) offers lots of opportunities towards this...
We, united, have come to this point after much struggle. Whether rich or poor, we have to live with unity we don't want "he is Muslim, Christian, Marathi" these religious distinctions, we only want unity. Until now we have gone through many struggles united, for water, for electricity, etc. So we must build also uniformly. I mean if you build houses with hierarchy then its inequality, this should not happen.
While waiting and hoping for the society to set things and processes in motion, we continue our struggle together, supporting each other. We must continue to live together and equally.
P.K. Das: If the society finally decides to build equal (uniform) houses for everyone and takes responsibility for 25,000-30,000 cost of each house in which 300 families will live, for which in total some lakhs of rupees are required, and the society can get this money through banks, or HUDCO or HDFC - if this is the society's decision then we can still build as per this plan, where every family will get a house of same size and type, whether its 250 or 300 sq ft, whatever we decide on.
P.K. Das: Uniform houses too can be built using this plan, but our concern was that the society may not be able to gather such funds while we've already got the land in our hands - and you all are well aware of the amount of struggle and fights over land. When land is empty its inevitably squatted on. We need to protect this land and the only way to do that is for us to build and settle, inhabit it. If this land is quickly inhabited this can also be done - we distribute plots and begin building our respective homes legally and according to a plan or design - there is an ideology to the planning, not like anyone builds as they please. If you look at this model you'll see every house also has a small courtyard - so there is open place also. And 4 houses are also provided a common toilet and water facility. So, we can make this scheme successful with planning and ideas, both ways. And this depends on society's final decision.
Anil Adarkar: We have offered you two methods, we can discuss together the pros and cons of each method so that you'll can decide. Accordingly the society will make a final decision and we'll build according to that. This allows for independance (freedom).
P.K. Das: Yes, that's the most important thing.
Say we take a bank loan and build a house and then tomorrow we cannot pay back the loan in time to the bank, then after 3 months they can lock our home and throw us out. Who will take this responsibility? Bank can give loans easily, also with added strength of the society. We can build houses worth 30,000-35,000. But if today we find it hard to pay only 30 rupees then how will we manage to pay 200 and 300 rupees in the future?
Arvind Adarkar: We will sit together and discuss this very topic. Perhaps you'll are not aware, but when we take a bank loan, we'll have to give this entire land as collateral (mortgage). Is the society is ready for this? Everyone must discuss this, make a decision and take responsibility on this democratically. Were just saying that whether its your method or their method, either way we can build according to this plan.
We are poor, weak and have been cheated by so many people last 6 years and they are going ahead in their lives. We cannot pay 30 rupees then how will we pay 300 rupees? That's why we are thinking for the last 6 years.
Arvind + P.K.: We survey things like how much money people can contribute themselves, or if they can repay loans, how many cannot, etc and then according to that we can make the final housing plan. Those who can contribute, their homes can be built separately. Or if they want it can also be all together. That's also possible.
- This sort of discrimination / hierarchy will not be good, if we build then we must build equally.
Arvind + P.K.:Then we have to a take decision.
Our financial condition is very bad and among us many people are not able to pay the building costs whatever they may be 25,000 or 30,000. How do we bear this cost is a big concern for us. I'll mention what comes to my mind. One is that there are some organisations, NGOs that can help a little bit so we can try them. Meanwhile about the plan I had said before too, and some had objected too. Assuming they are ready to help us, we should have a rule that prevents anyone from selling their house for upto the first 5 or 10 years. Because many people have done this. When their house gained value they promptly sold it and went away.
We shouldn't sell houses we've been given for rehabilitation. We may get some free houses or donations, if they are not liabilities for us then let us take some help from such sources. There may be other similar facilities too. We're not absolutely hopeless - we do manage to feed our children and look after our family's needs. We can even cut corners and give more towards housing. We're all ready to do this because in the end the benefit is ours only. Today we live in huts, tomorrow they will become pakka
and then we and our children can live together in comfort. If in this bargain we must cut more corners, struggle a bit more, we're all ready for this, with our complete support. But, we need to know a limit, a budget, a total cost of this building. Along with that we also need to know how much help / support we can get from outside. After subtracting this from the total budget, what are we left with as expense we must undertake ourselves, and calculate what this works out to as a per month payment - 100-150 rupees per person. If that's the extent of the expense, we can bear it. If it is much more than this then our very poor neighbourhood cannot afford it.
I speak about myself, touch-wood I have 8 kids, wife and many guests who visit. And its very difficult to make ends meet but somehow we manage, Now I must also manage expenses to build this house. Keeping our condition in mind if you come up with a solution then we are all ready and support you all as we've always done till now.
P.K. Das: Apart from money or other issues regarding this plan, we must keep in mind one thing - our freedom, our rights, the freedom and strength to make ones' own decisions, which we have acquired after much struggle - should never be curtailed. No outsider can dictate things like - how our neighbourhood should be built, how much our homes should cost, where the money will come from and how to repay it - these decisions we must make ourselves. The plan has been made keeping this is in mind, regardless of whether the society decides to build all homes uniformly from the start, or non-uniformly from the beginning; In the end, as conditions improve, they will become uniform, one. Whatever is your decision...
Arvind Adarkar: The decision will be yours', the peoples'. At this point, the rights you'' have received because of your strength remains your right. We will do this only after you'll decide...
P.K. Das: ... we'll make this plan. But the main objective of this plan is that each house is separate, ie on its own plot, each house will have open space and in the middle of 4 houses we'll provide 2 toilets and 2 water taps for now. In future this can be made into 4 as well. I mean we can start with this minimal plan to improve our homes and our community.