Slum Bombay: Interview with S.K. Sharma (Chairman & MD HUDCO)
Director: Ralli Jacob, Rafeeq Ellias, P.K. Das; Cinematographer: Rafeeq Ellias
Duration: 00:22:13; Aspect Ratio: 1.366:1; Hue: 29.016; Saturation: 0.261; Lightness: 0.193; Volume: 0.081; Cuts per Minute: 1.215; Words per Minute: 97.639
Interview with S.K. Sharma (Chairman & Managing Director, HUDCO 1985-1991)
Vijay Kamble: You mentioned about your street play on kerosene which got the people violent.
We often discuss in Bombay that if people unite and raise their voices against the government, police and other rowdy forces with respect to land and housing issues, is this wrong?
Answer: There are two types of violence - one is physical and second is repression which emerges as violence. People had become so helpless regarding kerosene that they had no other option, so they caught that man and beat him up. But when these affairs involve landlords, slum landlords, land sharks, real estate agents, this is a very big business - crores is going into black money. This is a nexus of the police, government corruption and wealthy people dealing with black money - its takes them no time to destroy the poor. But in a moment which calls for struggle we will show our physical strength. But the ones who are getting beaten up did not struggle. I would like to say do fight. And if it so happens that someone takes your land, wife, kids, or police are behaving very rudely or some politicians stoop to violence among us, than fighting is necessary. But we need to prepare peoples mindset to create this revolution and movement.
Left to right pan inside the house
Mid shot of street play picture
Mid shot of street play picture 2
Q: You see you must understand Anjana that (?) catalyst, we are not going to we can change revolutionary...(?)
Interview of S.K Sharma with Vijay Kamble and Anjali
Q: Mr Sharma we know
Anjana: Mr Sharma we in Delhi know all about HUDCO's plans and programmes and the assistance that you are giving to various organisations and improving the quality of life in our slum areas. Would you explain to Mr Kamble some of the plans and programmes that you have that he could probably use in Bombay?
Anjana: Hello Mr Sharma this is a Mr Vijay Kamble from Bombay he is a teacher...
Anjana: Hello, Mr Sharma how are you? Thank you for giving us time today. I have brought Mr Vijay Kamble here from Bombay.
Vijay Kamble: Hello
S.K. Sharma: Please sit down
Anjana: Actually he is a teacher and he's been living and working in the slums and rather much seized with the housing problem. So I thought you are the best person to tell him about what programmes and policies. Because HUCDO is doing key role in this upgradation of life in slums?
S.K. Sharma: Well actually these settlements the slums settlements have become a very major problem particularity in the metropolitan cites. And now it is being increasingly realised you see that the solution to the housing problem is not by shifting the slums or... but more to integrate them in the urban fabric. And that is why we are now talking increasingly of environmental improvement or slums improvement of the dwelling itself. But what is more important that we are talking of the total development of the urban communities.
S.K. Sharma: Well the main problem in housing is that we have to continuously look to the larger issues, the macro issues, what is happening to our cities to the medium towns, to the rural areas and then again we have to turn back and see what is happening to the people living in our city in the slums, you see the quality of life there and how do you resolve these issues. Now let us take say for example Bombay from where you have come. Now if everybody wants to live in Bombay you see there is no way... we can have that type of land available there. Than we say that land is too short so we say okay everybody should start living in flats or we sort of go on to very dense settlements.
S.K. Sharma: And people, poor people who cannot afford land who do not have access to land which has become very expensive, then they are pushed into squatter settlements where you have no facilities, no water, no clean water, unhygienic conditions. Now this thing is continuously is happening in our cities. And the bigger the city you see the larger is the percentage population of slum. Now this is happening because these cities are going beyond a certain scale. And in that what happens is lot of investment is done by the formal sector. And the poor people you see move in to fill in the jobs that are created.
S.K. Sharma: So what really is the answer is to have a more rational distribution of people you now you have bigger town, you have medium town in the transportation linkages. Likewise the rural area.. What is the rural area - its an area where you have predominantly agricultural activity. But in rural area also some efforts should bring in urban qualities. Now so in that sense you see the planning efforts should be to sort of accommodate people in different and more human settlements. Now this is what government policy has always been there but unfortunately what happens is you see the people who have some money, people who are whether they are businessmen, industrialist or even professional they want to go into a big city where it is very easy to start your business.
S.K. Sharma: And that is how you see the big cities are becoming bigger and bigger. Now in this whole process you see when we tried to solve the housing problem all the time sort of we are... We have to run faster and faster to stay we are. So that is way when we try to solve one slum problem another is created but the fact remains that this is a very major human problem. Now as a matter of fact we recognise that you see slum really are not a problem in that way, but it is a solution you see where people have found a shelter solution for themselves.
S.K. Sharma: And now what we need to do is to give them the minimum basic facilities and upgrade the quality. But again you see we should not look at these settlements, this housing, the people who are living there purely as a physical site improvement programme. You see the whole approach and attitude to this has to be that we want total upliftment of these communities. And that is why we say it has to be looked into the social problems, to the education of the children, the women problem, the job opportunities, the healthcare of the children. And that is how we are now viewing housing in these settlements.
S.K. Sharma: And instead of just some group of engineers moving in and trying to do some physical facility, we are encouraging and promoting social action groups, voluntary organisations to come forward and interact with the local authorities and reach the people in the true sense. Of course the physical facilities of course play also a very important role and that is where in the slum upgradation programme we are talking of very intense planning studies, so that we create neighbourhood which meets the needs and life style of the people.
S.K. Sharma: Now this study which HUDCO (The Housing and Urban Development Corporation Limited) had done during recent years has very forcefully brought out, you see, that very good neighbourhoods can be created through the process of cluster planing. Now in this what happens is that you create very nice intimate courtyards around which a group of houses are located. And then by the this process of planning you see the lengths of roads get reduced and consequently expenses of services like electric line, water supply line and all that.
S.K. Sharma: And people get into a space you see where they are accustomed to this style of living - the people in India have been traditionally living around courtyards. So all this idea about making flats putting people in little little tiny pigeon holes on the 3rd or 4th floors you see that doesn't work well at all. As a matter of fact you spend more to inconvenience the people. What we are saying is that we can get the same densities in a better environment at a much lower cost. And that is what a number of exercises which we have done, these projects have been implemented in Delhi as well as in various other parts of the country.
S.K. Sharma: And then while these upgradations are being done, what we do is to involve the communities themselves in the process. Now how do you do that? - Now for example in building activity itself you see a lot of labour is required. Now these people also want employment, now if you can match the two... What we have to do is to upgrade the skills of these people. As a matter of fact this upgradation of skills of building artisans is a very important aspect of the entire building activity. You see what has happened is over years there has been no formal process of training of masons and carpenters. With the result that an unskilled person comes, picks up job at the site and then one day declares that he has become a mason. And then he does all sorts of wrong things and the construction is very shoddy, cement and materials are wasted and that is what is happening every day.
S.K. Sharma: So what we are doing is we are trying to upgrade the skills of artisans through a network of building centres which we have set up where in informal environment they are given this training. There various cost effective technologies you see are also a part of training, because otherwise we are in the...[[cut]] we are doing. So what we do is there are various methods, there are various types of blocks you can manufacture, you cam make... mud can be very innovatively used right from the traditional method into very modern methods of stabilised and compacted blocks that you can make. Now how you make these blocks, those little machine how you handle them - these are the types of training which are imparted to the people mostly from the slum areas.
S.K. Sharma: And then they had to also give... because of that skill they start earning little more. And that is how their whole life style can be improved. And when you take a slum upgradation programme you can say that okay you build, you'll get your wages, now 50% of the money you can give back in the form of equity towards your house, rest you can retain for your own use. Now all these possibilities are there but this has now to be dealt with as a peoples' programme rather than bringing in a contractor, he does something and nothing from that which the community benefits.
S.K. Sharma: So this whole approach is an approach towards orienting housing into a peoples' programme. And this cost effective technology which we are talking of - essentially the idea is to consume less materials. But for doing that you need more skills and consequently you have to pay more wages. So ultimately the house would be cheaper but materials which are scarce you see we will be consuming them less. But we will be giving equally strong buildings. The idea is not that we give some inferior building, the strength of the building will still be the same.
S.K. Sharma: So this is the type of processes which we are promoting, but ultimately even these building centres, they are the grass root institution where you get a feedback. You see the local artisan tells you what is acceptable, what will work, what will not work... So it is not an imposition from top to low, but it is how it is integrated in the programme. Interestingly when we were talking about improvement of architecture or the need for looking into neighbourhood planing more intensively, you see the general attitudes we found were not so positive.
S.K. Sharma: But when we changed our strategy and we said - look we are going to talk to the artisan now - the artisan is a very important person - that is how you see all the wastages is that are taking place... Immediately the whole scene changed, the political acceptance was better, the people's acceptance was better. So now the whole package you see as a matter of strategy that is why we always say that - look housing should never be looked at one point. We should look at the totality of the thing and bring in various things, all in together whether it is the social workers import, or it is a technology import, or it is a planning import, or the user involvement - all these things have to be brought in together. And that is how the whole thing can be enriched and a more meaningful programme can be achieved.
S.K. Sharma: Now while we are looking at slums you see we cannot overlook the fact that the major housing problem is really in the rural areas. The rural housing problem has such severity as a matter of fact the main reason for exploitation of the...