Slum Bombay: Interview with Anil Laul (Architect)
Director: Ralli Jacob, Rafeeq Ellias, P.K. Das; Cinematographer: Rafeeq Ellias
Duration: 00:20:51; Aspect Ratio: 1.366:1; Hue: 29.154; Saturation: 0.134; Lightness: 0.153; Volume: 0.070; Cuts per Minute: 3.020; Words per Minute: 94.707
Interview with Anil Laul (Architect and Urban Planner, then Director of Nizamuddin Building Centre)
Q: What happens, these jhuggis
get converted gradually?
Anil Laul: Yes... see when the slum dweller is given money by the
Anil Laul: Yes... see when the slum dweller is given money by the landlord... I mean the property agent gives him money, then he takes the money and says great, I'll build my home upstairs and a shop below.
Q: And they've been legalised also.
Anil Laul: They've been legalised.
Q1: ...take the politician and his word and sort of
Q1: ...take the politician and his word and sort of go ahead and execute it and tell then you wanted it, you promised them. (?) politician (?) gives me the opportunity.
xx: Cut. Cut.
Anil Laul: See the success of the Delhi Building Centre is owing to a few administrators who are very strong and very committed, who can bulldoze the public (?) department. Public (?) department is the biggest resisting factor. Now we get a lot of administrators coming from all over the country, coming and seeing the building centre, liking what we're doing, yet cannot put the building centre into operation because - when they go back they talk to their chief engineer that they saw this or they talk to their superintendent engineer that they saw what they're doing at the building centre and they like it. So then the chief engineer or the superintendent engineer comes down and we explain it to him. He goes back and says 'Sir, very good, very good. you take the responsibility.' But the main thing is, how can the technical man put the responsibility onto the administrator? Now the administrators get together and say ok, we will take it upon ourselves - that's the only way to call the bluff.
Anil Laul: Or if the public house(?) department who only knows how to do brick - do bad brick work, plaster it, put RCC on top, pinch a lot of material from the RCC and makes their money. Their whole - because that system has become so strong, and they know exactly where to take the money out of. Any system which is outside that - then they have to start learning from scratch how to pinch the money. They will resist.
Anil Laul: So its going to depend largely on the local administrator. He has got to be able to call the bluff of the public house(?) department. And in that will lie the success of the other building centres.
Bhoomiheen Camp, Delhi
Q: ... this system that you're talking about and what are the materials - construction - and its advantages?
Anil Laul interview
Anil Laul: First let me start from the planning norms - why we did this exercise. This is Bhoomiheen Camp - where you're standing now is Bhoomiheen Camp. This whole system is designed for about 630 dwelling units per hectare. Now 630 dwelling units per hectare is a very very large density.
Anil Laul: Now we are opposed to taking them up into multi-storeys and creating open spaces which then again become encroachable spaces. Here we've given them 15 sq mt sealed systems. But from this we derived a very important policy. That is if we have to upgrade people as is where is and densities go up to more than 600, then we'll give the 15 sq mts on the ground, 15 sq mts above - as two separate tenements.
Anil Laul: Where we find that we're going to rehabilitate them then we'll take them to the outskirts of Delhi and give them 18 sq mts - incremental 18 - that means they get an 18 sq mt development. But again it is on the basis of this cluster planning that you see here around the courtyard, so that encroachment is contained.
Anil Laul: Where we find that giving them 18 sq mts on the outskirts we can de-congest a place then we'll try to give them 12.5 sq mts on the place where they are - incremental 12.5 sq mts. So ultimately they can get either 15 sq mt flat, or 25 sq mt 2 room unit or a 36 sq mt 2 room unit if they agree on moving to a new settlement that might be worked out for them.
Anil Laul: Now in this we have used all the systems that we had at the building centre - these blocks that we have, the materials that we make, the re-constituted stone blocks and inside we've used (?) shells. The object of the exercise being that:
1 - if we find there are certain number of people who cannot even pay their initial instalment, then we ask them to make these blocks. That becomes their equity participation. Over here you find that we've used bricks and blocks. Now we estimate that when we demolish a slum, there would be a certain amount of material coming out of that. Now we want to use that material back. So we would be using broken bricks, we would be using the bricks that come out of their demolition, we'd be using the broken stone - any material as far as we're concerned is reconstituable and we can build a perfectly good house out of it. Our objective is to cut down the construction cost as much as possible by using their refuse and only giving them support systems.
Anil Laul: But the planning system is the more critical component where encroachment is contained, incrementality is contained, the tendency to sell is contained, and the tendency to add another floor and break the by-laws or increase of densities are contained.
Anil Laul: Now this entire thing can be shown to you... is very clear form these plans, where you find that the whole system is interlocking where we have the right of entry from one courtyard but the right of ventilation is from the opposing courtyard. Therefore you contain the tendency of a person to build a staircase to be able to encroach. Or to be able to build another floor on top.
Q: You didn't talk about the blocks - mud blocks.
Anil Laul: No we haven't used mud blocks here. We've used this... reconstituted stone blocks actually.
Q: How do you answer this toilets coming right... in the settlement, in the family's income... toilets are not there for the first floor people, so there'll be lot of frequency... so why and how...?
Anil Laul: See that is why you find that the houses are across... or the toilets are across the houses. Now that became essential... if we give a toilet within the unit then it becomes a highly rentable unit. For one.
Anil Laul: And we
seem to imagine that these people want W.C.
Anil Laul: And we
seem to imagine that these people want a W.C. with their house. They do not want a W.C - we've done a whole lot of surveys and we find that they do not consider it appropriate to have a W.C. within their house.
Anil Laul: Therefore if you look very carefully at this you find that the W.C.'s are across the courtyard which is the back of the other man's house. As I explained to you earlier - the W.C.'s are within the courtyard because we wanted the leach pit there. And the baths are on the street side because eventually we are taking the surface drainage out on to the street. And the leach pit is a low cost sanitation system, and we want that within the courtyard.
Q: And these holes, like windows, regarding... cheap... (?)
Anil Laul: Well the best is if we could provide so many more things. At the moment our objective is to provide a comprehensive shelter. If the man wants he can introduce a window. Let him introduce the window as he likes. There would be separate articulation by that. Somebody would provide a big window, somebody a smaller window, somebody would provide an arch - let that be his own expression. Why should we... we can't afford the roof, we can't afford the shelter, and we talk of the window first!
Q: ...themselves and people who live here and their expectation is different from say toilet blocks from the normal city people. Is there... you talk of surveys... is there a difference?
Anil Laul: Ya.
Q: We had this experience in Korea at a conference where a person was talking about Indian and its use towards sanitation especially in...
Q2: That they sit around the toilet, they get a chance to meet each other...
Anil Laul: That's around the baths.
Anil Laul: Well, even the sanitation. But that's very romantic haan
, when we used to say you know the guy goes out in the open, all sitting and defecating in the open, and while they're defecating they have a whole lot of interaction, etc. I won't go in... that's just making something out of nothing. They don't prefer that. They would like their privacy when they're defecating. However they wouldn't like it adjoining their house!
Anil Laul: So we... you see, this is... a low cost housing or a slum upgradation has to be a transient settlement. He's come from the village where he's used to open defecation. He's come into the urban context, this is an intermediate stage.
Anil Laul: Eventually we expect that these people, their living conditions will improve. Now we don't want them to be living here all the time. When they find that the affordability factor has increased, they can buy another place, move out there.
Anil Laul: The slum upgradation essentially must be a transient non-speculative area. Only then can you sort out the slum problems. But if you say that you've given a piece of land to somebody and he must have the right to build as much as he wants. Beautiful thought, however, impractical. It cannot be. Otherwise you're just going to have... speculation is going to be rife and you're never going to be able to sort out anything because of its over-romanticism!
Q: You have a special reason to provide staircase from outside?
Anil Laul: The staircase form outside we have given only because the ground floor man we say has been contained with this lateral cross-ventilation and cross-connections etc. However, there's a tendency for the first floor man to encroach - he might want to build above. So we've taken the staircase here which starts from the ground and goes straight up to the terrace. So everybody uses this by coming down and going and using the terrace.
Anil Laul: And since the terrace belongs to everybody, nobody is going to encroach. There's only two ways to prevent encroachment vertically:
1> either to provide an inclined roof
In which case you have denied that man the terrace right. Terrace living is very very open living and terrace living is very essential in the slum areas.
Anil Laul: The moment you've built an inclined roof because you think that you've prevented him from encroachment, you've denied him another thing. All it requires is a simple spiral to take them up, and the terrace right becomes common. Therefore encroachment does not take place. Its such an elementary solution.
Q: What has been the reaction of the slum people living opposite to...
Anil Laul: We got a mixed reaction. Some people feel that they still would prefer ownership of a plot, because plot is so value added. It is a trade-able commodity. And people are beginning to feel there is a dole out. As long as we give it the trade-able commodity value, people are going to demand a plot.
Anil Laul: But it is not always... we must not always consider what
people want. Everybody wants a hell of a lot, as much as they can. But the basic point at the administrative level, can you do that? Or, is this one of the solutions? You just can't meet everybody's aspirations all the time, specially when you're giving it at such a low cost, or at a subsidised rate. You have to meet their minimal requirements, and not their maximum aspirations.