Slum Bombay: Footage from the 4th Asian Congress of Architects (ACA 4)
(Delhi tape 13), and group discussion at Bhomiheen camp, Govindpuri
Director: Ralli Jacob, Rafeeq Ellias, P.K. Das; Cinematographer: Rafeeq Ellias
Duration: 00:22:26; Aspect Ratio: 1.366:1; Hue: 9.549; Saturation: 0.046; Lightness: 0.102; Volume: 0.100; Cuts per Minute: 1.872; Words per Minute: 94.089
- Interview with Sarayu Ahuja
- Bhoomiheen camp - resident interviews
Interview with Sarayu Ahjuja
Sambhaji Bhagat plays Vijay Kamble, a housing activist from Bombay who is visiting Delhi to speak to housing experts!
Sambhaji Bhagat plays Vijay Kamble, a housing activist from Bombay who is visiting Delhi to speak to housing experts.
Vijay Kamble (Q): I spoke with many people here, I have been hearing about FSI, density,... I don't understand these terms, could you explain?
Sarayu Ahuja: Now FSI (floor space index) is a ratio of built-up space to land whereas density is basically a ratio of people to land. So one side you are comparing space to land on the other side you are comparing people to land. And in my opinion I feel that density is far... a safer tool for development than FSI. For a simple reason that if we tackle development and land use by FSI we have a need to speculate to divide the plots into single dimensions. Whereas when we deal with densities we tend to do it on gross spaces, now that makes a major difference.
Sarayu Ahuja: Okay, Mud as a development alternative now it is a very good venture that we are looking into using local mud. And also we are trying to reinforce it with modern technology. But we should not imagine it at this moment to be a solution. We can only imagine it to be an interim stage of process. Because the danger of imagining it or presuming it to be a solution would be that will try and apply it in other places like Bombay, other places maybe even Calcutta, where whether it would be feasible would be a moot point.
Sarayu Ahuja: Now, to that extent all the mud technologies in Delhi, in Bangalore, in other parts of India that are taking place, various alternative, various techniques that have been adapted have been successful as long as you consider it a process. But it cannot be a solution for large settlements in urban areas. For a simple reason that for urban areas we need all kinds of housing some housing types which have to be permanent and some of them which have to be impermanent.
Sarayu Ahuja: To some extent kinds of mud technology could be used where housing has to be done on an impermanent basis, on a transit bases. But if mud is not available as a local material, if factories are not built or not available in places like Bombay and Calcutta, carrying material or finished goods from Delhi and Bangalore would be again a loss in energy - of time and resource.
Q: The cost of the prototypes... the production cost that they have talked about in the prototypes seems very low... they can be...
Sarayu Ahuja: Costs are affected in two ways. On one side when its done on a low scale it could work out cheaper. At the same time when its done on the basis of mass production it works out also cheaper. As long as the marketing and the sponsors, or the... manufacturers have an intention to reach the market at such a scale. Also it depends on the demand. Now the moment its mass produced but the demand is low, the cost will go up. So the question is whether mud as a development alternative or development alternative building material will be cheaper to conventional methods is something that we have to understand. Because its depends on the quantities - when its done in smaller quantities its going to be less expensive. And when in larger quantities, depending on the demand, it would be even cheaper or more expensive.
Sarayu Ahuja: Ya, we definitely need some guideline for minimum standards. I am saying guideline because it should not be rule or norm as such. For a simple reason that the minimum standards in urban places, in congested areas should be different from the minimum standard in non-congested areas and country sides. Now what happens is when you take a place like Bombay or take up the instance of HUDCO (The Housing and Urban Development Corporation Limited) - now they have a definite norm wherever they are building.
Sarayu Ahuja: In which case the result is that the minimum standards wherever they advocate housing all over the country are followed. Which is not right. I mean we understand that the minimum requirement is directly connected to the value of space in a particular area. So naturally if it is an urban centre the value is much different or much higher than if it is in the countryside or in the villages. So minimum standards will definitely have to be tied up to urban areas which should be different and to regional areas which should be different. So that you try and ensure that the region or the countryside is not getting congested at the same time.
Sarayu Ahuja: Yes, now regarding this Bhoomiheen cluster project you wanted to know whether it is a successful solution for slum re-housing. Well to an extent yes but it also has many inbuilt constraints. For a simple reason I think it is being believed to be an end solution. Which I think where slum is concerned we cannot have permanent solutions, we need to have a continuous chain of processes. So what this cluster housing should be is that it is part of the process - we need to use it as a prototype, see what changes need to be done and given a different, fresh insight to housing. And that again won't be the end solution, it will be a series of experiments. And I believe slum housing has to be a series of experiments. Continuously it needs to be evaluated, and not physically in the terms of space requirements or minimum standards or how it is used, but in terns of the satisfaction or happiness factor that brings about a community feel in the place.
Q: In purely human social terms do you think that that makes sense... the ventilation, the light, things like that.. Size, light, ventilation sanitation, density - could you talk about that?
Sarayu Ahuja: Ya, to some extent, well, it makes sense. Now the only thing is these are always physical parameters that we are trying to include in housing. I mean to us, always housing we try to understand as sanitation, ventilation, walls, spaces, roof. But there is something much beyond that in housing. It is how you involve the community to live together. Now we find in slums itself despite the inhuman manner in which they live, there is a kind of community feeling. And this the architecture or the design must inculcate, which is very important. So I think sanitation, light, ventilation anyone would be able to provide. But what we need to know is whether the slum is adaptive in its spaces.
Q: Is the sanitation, space, ventilation, light,...
Sarayu Ahuja: Adequate.
Q: ...suitable and human in Bhoomiheen? ...Does it meet the minimum norms? Do you think we should set ...
Sarayu Ahuja: No like I said we cannot set minimum norms because at this point of time we are still in the process of understanding whether its minimum or not. I mean we have not set no standard so far. So we have to give it a few years to understand whether the functioning of the slum is adequate.
Sarayu Ahuja: The minute you will find that maybe some people are breaking holes into the walls, or the minute you find that people are trying to use the slum in a - the house, the shelter in a different manner - and changing it to suit their means is when you get to know what is minimum and what is required. I mean by standards like acoustics or something you can't say - okay this is the minimum required - where general living is concerned.
Shot of Bhoomiheen Camp board zoom out to community people.
Travel shot of slum area.
Shot of Bhoomiheen Camp board zoom out to community people 2
Q: ...like you'll talk normally.
sdx: Okay, begin with the questions.
Q: I'm from Bombay where I live in a shanty. You too live in a shanty. I'd like to know how many hutments (slums) are here in total. In all of Bhoomiheen.
sdx: There's 3 camps here. One is Bhoomiheen camp. Second is Navjivan camp. Third is Nehru camp.
Q (Sambhaji Bhagat): I'm from Bombay where I live in a shanty (hutment). You too live in a shanty and so our hardships are similar. To better understand the differences and similarities, I'm talking with a lot of people here. So I'd like to know how many shanties are there in all of Bhoomiheen camp.
sdx: Here... we have counted the shanties... and its about 2,200 hutments. Only in Bhoomiheen camp.
Q: What are the problems you face here?
sdx: Problems - there are many.
sdx: To begin with, at night fall, we have problems with electricity, water, living space too. To top it all, when it rains - and this year its rained a lot, peoples' lives have been destroyed. All sorts of problems here.
Q: What about amenities like medical, water, education?
sdx: For education, there are schools in nearby neighbourhoods, our children go to. Government dispensaries provide us with medicine. There's also (?) organisation which provides medical assistance. They've also started some balwaadi
s where children are learning. There's just the one organisation.
Q: How many people might be working there?
sdx: About 10 perhaps.
Q: !0 people there.
Q: Yesterday I saw this new building they've constructed for you people. What do you feel about the building and its provision of living space?
sdx: On 21st January when our Prime Minister Shri V.P. Singh had visited here to celebrate the New Year. So he presented the poor with this gift - built up homes - so that when he returns next New Year, it should all be pakka
sdx: But the people appointed by the government here have given us such small rooms that its impossible for any family here to manage in those.
Q: How so?
sdx: These are like cattle pens that they make in Bihar. Where husband, wife, children. relatives are all to somehow manage in one tiny room. This is a big problem.
Q: I saw that place had toilets too. Now how would that be different from your living situation here?
sdx: Here we're temporary. On the hope that the government will provide for the poor, in order to lessen the gap between the rich and poor or destitute. But with this sort of settlement there is no hope for lessening that gap or bringing about any sense of equality. The poor will remain poor, likely taken to the police station for rowdyism (jhalla karna
). Day to evening he'll be on duty, come nightfall he's taken to the station. Then late next morning at duty again... All sorts of problems.
Q: According to you how should the living space be?
sdx: Like the D.D.A. constructed flats in 4 storey buildings - 32 sq yard (gaj
) - we can even accommodate guests there. Our children and their spouses can also have their space. That's why it should be 32 sq yards (gaj
), like we had before.
Q: What do these ladies feel - what sort of house should you get?
sdy: What he says is right. We can't manage here. It'll be daily trips with the cops and station (?). Where will a daughter in law stay? Children only get bigger - they don't grow smaller, do they? So we can't survive in that space.
Q: Its too small
sdy: Its too small! Where will children and their spouses and eventually their children stay?
Q: Your space is smaller?
sdy: Mine? Everyone's is.
Q: Is it smaller than your current living space?
sdx: No no its better than that, but still.
sdy: The shanty is much better than this, we can at least sleep outside if nothing else. After dinner, we sleep on the grounds or the road here in the open.
Q: What about sleeping on the terrace?
sdy: No. That space goes to whoever gets the top floor.
Q: They're saying its common terrace space.
sdy: No, everybody can't go up.
sdy: This space is so tiny it allows no room for growth. We won't remain poor forever. We may be able to buy things in the future - say a cycle or a motorcycle even.... where would we put these? Its too small to live in.
Q: What do you want?
sdy: As Pradhanji said - that's what I want.
Q: How big?
sdy: We'd be very grateful if we got 32 gaj (square yards)- that we can manage with. And it should have one floor - same for all - so we can eventually build on top too. That's my suggestion.
sdx, sdy: There's a lot of space in Delhi...
Q: But that would cost more.
sdx: If the government claims to want to bring about equality should they then be looking at value of property or improving human living conditions?
Q: They should improve your living conditions...
sdx: They should, to lessen the gap between the rich and the poor. Some people have 100 acre farms, some have 25 palaces of 100 square yards (gaj
)... is 32 square yards too much for the poor?