Slum Bombay: Interview with Prabhakar Kunte
Director: Ralli Jacob, Rafeeq Ellias, P.K. Das; Cinematographer: Rafeeq Ellias
Duration: 00:22:04; Aspect Ratio: 1.366:1; Hue: 84.744; Saturation: 0.055; Lightness: 0.453; Volume: 0.102; Cuts per Minute: 0.362; Words per Minute: 104.563
Prabhakar Kunte was the Minister of Housing and Chairperson MHADA. While being the Housing Minister he saw the first ever slum census conducted in the year 1976 under which identity slips were issued, known as 'photo-pass'.
Prabhakar Kunte: Lest I am misunderstood, let me make 2 points clear to you -
1. When I say that one lakh additional tenements can be constructed in the whole city of Bombay, this is to be done only after we have strictly followed the development control rules, all the regulations that the BMC and the other agencies impose. Take for example, under the development plan of the BMC a certain building has to be demolished and a garden has to be provided there.
Prabhakar Kunte interview
Prabhakar Kunte interview
Prabhakar Kunte interview.
Prabhakar Kunte: We will observe that after complying with all these conditions even then it will be possible for us to provide a lakh of additional tenements. Now, today as to the question of how the rich can contribute and how the poor can also be helped and all that, let me explain to you one thing. The standard size of a tenement will be 180 sq ft carpet. So that it will be about 220 built-up with a lavatory block attached in it itself. Now, that to construct that kind of a place, that kind of a small tenement, the present day cost works out to about rupees 50 - 55 thousand per tenement.
Prabhakar Kunte: Now, under the act it is enjoined upon us to provide some benefits to the old tenants. In case we make some surplus in that particular activity of reconstruction of old buildings we have to share that surplus with the tenants - old tenants, under the provisions of the act. Therefore what I propose is this that even though it will cost us 50 to 55 thousand rupees per tenement at the present levels of prices, we will offer it to the tenants at 25 thousand rupees per tenement. Now, so it will... so we will be requiring another 25 to 30 thousand... and then we will have to find out where do we get the remaining 30 thousand rupees which will have spent in constructing that.
Prabhakar Kunte: I say the principle of cross subsidy will have to be extensively employed in solving this problem of mass housing. Now the surplus tenements if I sell at market rate, the market rate today is easily about one thousand rupees a sq ft. So, this 220 sq ft tenement that I am offering to a newcomer, I'll say you pay me 2 lakh of rupees for that surplus tenement. And whatever surplus I generate there it will be used for subsiding the cost of construction so far as the old tenants are concerned.
Prabhakar Kunte: So, this is how the problem of 18 to 19 thousand old building in the city of Bombay can be tackled. It is only yesterday that the honourable minister for housing has approved a scheme to be undertaken by MHADA (Maharashtra Housing and Development Authority), which scheme in involve about 30 buildings in the city of Bombay which we are now undertaking as a pilot project. And the minister for housing was yesterday kind enough to permit or to give us the necessary sanction for it. The PMGP also has been playing a big role in these things in this reconstruction of old and dilapidated buildings, but we'll come to that later. As I was trying to tell you that in so far as these old and dilapidated buildings are concerned, their reconstruction will pay for itself. You are asking me how you will find the finance for Bombay's urban renewal. There are ways and ways to find it.
Prabhakar Kunte: We may... it may be we will require some funds for providing the infrastructural facilities. I put that figure at about 5000 crores... Bombay's to augment the infrastructure - water supply, road, buses, hospitals, dispensaries, schools, this that all those things. I mean this is by layman's estimate - a team can sit down and work it out, but I expect that it will be... the capital expenditure will be about 5000 crores of rupees. And that money will have to be found. And I think rich people of Bombay, if we approach them in the right spirit, that this is for Bombay's development, this is for creating conditions of better living for all us including the rich people.
Prabhakar Kunte: I have not the slightest doubt that people will come forward and say 'alright you take our money'. We'll return it to them after 15-20 years whatever it will be terms of loan to be decided. My suggestion would be that Bombay bonds could be issued at whatever is the rate... government rate of interest is for borrowing rate of interest. But that the government will have to do it and the government of India will have to agree to it. I in fact through you I appeal to them that if they permit the State government to do so, since the CM has spoken about it, perhaps we can push through this idea.
Prabhakar Kunte: See land, raw land as we understand it which is being acquired under the urban ceiling act and part of it which is left behind with the owners because they don't fall in the parameters of the legislation. See that land will be about 2,000 hectares of so in the city of Bombay. But now you stop thinking in terms of land itself. Now you start thinking in terms of FSI - floor space index. The state government has recently revised - I should say they have relaxed the FSI and they have said that if you and if anybody undertakes rehabilitation of slum dwellers additional FSI will be granted. The government also has appointed a committee comprising of the municipal commissioner and the vice president of MHADA and some other officials to supervise - examine and supervise proposals which come to them and clear them.
Prabhakar Kunte: Now let me tell you one thing - land is there but it is today covered by slums, occupied by slums. And you know how the sprawling slums are located all over the city. If at all it is possible for us to bring some order in it, go in for some kind of multi-storey and not necessarily even multi-storey, even ground floor structures but in an orderly and shapely manner, the possibility is that some surplus will be available and that surplus could be again market area. What we thought about in so far as the old dilapidated buildings is concerned, the same strategy could be utilised as far as the slum removal is concerned.
Prabhakar Kunte: And there also my suggestion I have made it to the minister yesterday that we should offer to the slum dwellers also. A self-contained tenement of 180 sq ft at 25,000 rupees we should provide HUDCO (The Housing and Urban Development Corporation Limited) loan to them at 9% so, that in the next 10-15 years they themselves become the owners of their own tenement. But for that, considerable changes will have to be brought about in the various legislations that are governing these aspects. And I think government is aware of that and they are beginning an exercise in that regard.
Prabhakar Kunte: ... Whatever I have said so far will embitter all my friends who are very deeply attached and concerned with environment. This major also is a part of the environmental strategy of the government of India. I don't know what the government of India will do. Our World Bank project itself will come to a grinding halt because of this, but that is still in the... I'll say that we are pleading with the government of India and state government. I cannot have the final word on it, I can't say anything just now.
Prabhakar Kunte: But the point is that in an island city of Bombay, my submission is that they should relax it because this is an island - the vast stretches of sea are there, vast stretches of creek are there. And in an island if you imposed this, it becomes a little difficult because there is no land available. I don't know what the government of India will... They are better judges of it. I cannot... I am just a an implementing agency, or I have to carry out what they assign us to do.
Q: That means provide shelter to the worker as a fundamental right that what we talk about you know land to the tiller - is that a possible solution?
Prabhakar Kunte: No, earlier in the very early stages when we became free - sometime I am talking about 1948 -49 when Mr. Gulzarilal Nanda was the minister for labour and housing here, in Maharashtra - they had some plans and they felt that they could compel the industrialists to go in for housing for their own employees and all that. Actually many of the constructions, colonies that we constructed have been given to the industrial workers because there were some subsidies also from the government in those days.
Prabhakar Kunte: But see the industries out grew in number also so rapidly that it became almost impossible for the industrialists to stick to this or even for the government to enforce it. Now I don't think that is a possibility. Now the problem of housing will have to be tackled by a government agency. But one thing I must tell you that though I headed that agency here, my own personal opinion is that housing is an individual subject. Housing cannot become a government or semi government activity even.
The housing question
Prabhakar Kunte: After all every man likes... see the point of honour as far as every family is concerned is to have ones own house. Everybody cannot become a minister or a prime minister and make a name for himself in history. But everybody, every citizen's ambition in life is that alright I came to Bombay, I worked in Bombay, I earned something, I looked after my children, I gave them education and I also provided them a small house. The house or the home or whatever you may call it is the hallmark of the... what shall I say... the purushartha
or the... ambi... Whatever achievement I... that is the highest achievement of a family is that yes. I may depart from this world but I leave behind it, myself in memory to them by way of a house or something like that. So I think housing is an individual subject and unfortunately in India we are not able to do it. Look I'll tell you one thing...
Many of us take... cite the western example or the American example. You see, the population of United States is about 18 crores and they have a land mass twice the size of India. Whereas we have a population of 100 crores and we are half the size of United States of America. But those standards, those expectations are not at all realisable in Indian conditions. We'll have to come down and will have to... this China is facing the same problem. Indian and China are the 2 populous countries. I mean I am not sure but they say that in China they have made it almost obligatory... I mean almost a rule that not more then 150 sq ft of tenement per family. After all where will they find the room!?
Q: No slums in China?
Prabhakar Kunte: No slums in China.
Prabhakar Kunte: No slum in China I've not gone and seen them... but I don't know what to call it see... what you consider a slum in city of Bombay may not appear to be a slum if you go to your village. It appears... here it looks like a slum, but if you go to Alibag or to Pen or to Khopoli or somewhere what will you think it to be? So, see the slum has to be thought of in relation to the urbanity of the area and which it is located.
Q We should respect slum.
Prabhakar Kunte: Of course I'll tell you one thing I was the first man to tell in 1976 that don't demolish slums.
Q: It was you...?
Prabhakar Kunte: Yes, and I said that I have been censor them then we assured them.
Q: Call it slum Bombay? You can call slum Bombay.
Prabhakar Kunte: Slum Bombay, alright. No I tell you one thing slums can be improved also and for that lot of.. See social agencies ought to devote themselves to this. And such facilities that they require for carrying out improvements in the slum areas, certainly we will provide them. But the living conditions in the slums can still be improved. They can be further improved, they can make their own existing slums little better, little more attractive. The point is we've to see infrastructure is the main thing - if you can supply adequate quantity of water, if you can provide toilets, if you can provide... But personally, see from '76 onwards we carried out the slum improvement program. It is only lately that we've taken up this slum up-gradation program. But that is also to come. Sometime in the... See merely improvements and then nobody looks after those improvements that social responsibility is lacking.
Q: One of the chief minister of Bombay...
Prabhakar Kunte: See why not eliminate slums I don't know, I don't mind but the point is you must have enough money to build. You see a slum dweller is also serving you. As they say those who stand and... They also serve who stand and wait. Like that I may be lucky to have a house in a pakka
construction. But the slum dweller is also performing a useful job in some factory, in some establishment and he has himself provided a living residential accommodation for himself in the manner in which he could provide. Why do you look down upon him? You are not able to give him a house, government is not giving him a house.