Slum Bombay: Interview with Architect D.G. Parab and Prabhakar Kunte, MHADA
Director: Ralli Jacob, Rafeeq Ellias, P.K. Das; Cinematographer: Rafeeq Ellias
Duration: 00:21:30; Aspect Ratio: 1.366:1; Hue: 76.814; Saturation: 0.127; Lightness: 0.251; Volume: 0.077; Cuts per Minute: 0.790; Words per Minute: 81.995
D.G. Parab was the first Chief Architect and Planner of CIDCO.
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'.
Paramjit Singh Bhogal was the Director of the World bank funded Bombay urban Development Project implemented during the period 1985-1995 by MHADA. The project included programmes like the Site and Services Scheme and the Slum Up-gradation Programme.
D.G. Parab: It is true today that about 50 per cent or more than 50 per cent of the population of majority of the cities is in slums. But it is equally true that they co-exist with the affluent and the consumer society. Basically this problem has arisen because city planners, designers, administrators never consider affordability as one of the concept for city planning.
D.G. Parab interview
D.G. Parab interview
D.G. Parab interview.
D.G. Parab: Another important aspect is that city planning or urbanization is co-related with money making. Good urbanization should bring good money, this is why cities are build, this is the way the cities are structured so that they should function efficiently. But unfortunately because of this two type of processes we get two physical expressions in the city.
D.G. Parab: One expression of extreme poverty and the other expression of vulgar affluence. I got attracted basically because I think that the problems of poverty are more challenging to the architect because they basically demand certain restraint and discipline. Therefore the solution you find in the form of an artifact, in the form of physical form is always direct, bold, simple, modest. Whereas the solution for consumer society, for the affluent class is always acrobatics to me, where client and architect wants to over smart some body else. So there is a complete chaos and I personally think an artist or a person who wants to really evolve good solution must work on the problems of the poor. Because artifacts created by the poor craftsmen are more direct are more bold. In the consumer society where most of the architects, we now see this chaos; because of the acrobatic and because of this vulgarity of consumerism. This is the prime reason why I got attracted as an architect and as a planner and a social scientist I got attracted, one cannot forget 50 percent of population living in such a poverty because they do make an impact on the city planning.
But this being a new city the administrators, the elitist and the general public had some expectation from us.They want a some sort of an image of the city and therefore we had taken some projects which are compliment to the general image of the city. We cannot concentrate everything on the poor people otherwise people have blamed us we are creating a shanty town we are not imaginative. If you want to solve at all the problem of the poor we have to solve within the affordability limit. Because we cannot give subsidy to a large population and if we have to find a solution within an affordable limits, the solution is going to be very modest, simple and it is going not to be very grand. When the development is taken up by government people always have an aspiration to see something grand, so they say they want to show that they are modern; they are developing. So we have to have a reconciliation between the both, so hundred percent we did not solve but we have had that approach. We have to reconcile the grand city building approach as well as the modest housing project approach.
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Q. What are the shortcomings that you feel as an Architect? Being at CIDCO, in the context of the above.
A. First, I worked with CIDCO for about twenty years; from the day when CIDCO had started; it was really a great experience.Because city planning is a process, planning and development is a process and i was involved thoroughly in that process.From the very beginning CIDCO had considered the problem work very seriously but they had a limitation, we had a limitation because we had to work within the given structure of the society; structure of the economy. We had therefore made some efforts in solving some of the problems of housing by developing the site and services in 1974 at Vashi, then we had taken about 10,000 site and service at Airoli. We had constructed few Janata Bazaar for informal shopping and service sectors. We have a plan for gaothan expansion and improvement. So all this shows a CIDCO approach to the poor people.
It is true that CIDCO had acquired land from the farmer, its not CIDCO it is government has acquired land from farmer for CIDCO so that CIDCO could have better resources at their disposal. In fact out of the total land hardly 30 percent land is that what we call saleable land. Therefore, we can't give huge compensation to the people otherwise our selling price would be totally out of the reach for many people. Secondly, it is not the raw land which CIDCO had sold it is the developed land that is roads, water supply, sewerage, schools, power stations and all this infrastructure costs lots of money and this money ultimately they have to recover from the land. There was certain inflation trend was created, there is a criticism on CIDCO that CIDCO has really increased the prices substantially. But it is not true because if we would have sold the land at subsidised rate, at lower rate than the market price, you know; big fishes of the market would have gained out of that. Therefore we had created a three or four tier system of pricing. For certain functions like builders, bunglow plots, office blocks, commercial shopping we sell the land by auction that is getting the maximum price; thereafter for co-operative society at a certain fixed price; for schools at half the reserved price. So there is a different scale created, this is most important-different scale created. It is not possible to really dispose the land at rate lower than market rate because land is a commodity which is available, which is used by anybody as a share market to make money to make even speculative gain. Only where we can .....the price is by giving, by putting more land in the supply market and restricting people to develop land efficiently.
No man can claim to find a solution to all the problems of society. Housing is one of the acutest problems in so far as the citizens of Bombay are concerned.
Prabhakar Kunte interview
Prabhakar Kunte interview
Prabhakar Kunte interview.
Bombay was founded long, long ago. It has been a growing, developing city. From 1950 onwards, the development and growth took place at a very fast rate. Today we have reached a figure of about one crore population in the city of Bombay. Naturally the question that haunts everybody is whether it will at all be possible for us - MHADA, the state government, the central government, society as a whole - for all of us to find enough houses to accommodate this growing population of one crore.
In the very early days - I'm talking about the British days, when Mr. Nair and Mr. Modak - the then municipal engineers - they planned the citoy of Bombay and they thought that the old city of Bombay up to Mahim and Sion can take about 30 lakhs of people. Later on these suburbs were added to the city of Bombay. Now the population has gone to an astronomical figure of one crore and there is a likelihood of this population increasing also.
We have what is called the New Bombay across the creek - Thana creek. All told, my opinion is that inclusive of the areas across the Thana creek we can decently accommodate a population of about 2 crores, but there has to be a proper linkage between Bombay and the New Bombay across the Thana creek. Two bridges are coming now. One railway bridge is coming and the other road bridge is coming. But more bridges will be required.
Communications is one of the vital urban infrastructural inputs. And how far we are able to provide what they call the rapid transit system in and around Bombay - that will determine whether we'll be able to provide for all these people. The problem of land can be solved because of the New Bombay area, large tracks(?) of land in the New Bombay area.
As far as the water supply to the city is concerned, it can further be augmented. And I feel that it will be possible for the city management to provide adequate water supply to the 2 crores of people in these areas. I... if you ask the municipal corporation they will be able to tell you some of the resources which are still to be tapped as far as augmentation of Bombay's water supply is concerned.
So this population can be taken care of, but there has to be a will, there has to be a determination, there has to be a direction in which to go. And also, if you permit me to say, for the development of the city of Bombay enough finance can be found within the city itself. The other day he Chief Minister said that he will be taxing the rich people in Bombay. I cannot certainly contradict what the Chief Minister is saying, because he says with greater authority and definitely with some information which he has. But he has rightly put it - that Bombay can finance its own development - that is the meaning of it.
What more do you want me to do...?
I... I'll tell you one thing - the present situation has some disadvantages but it also offers some advantage. Now take for example all the old and dilapidated buildings in the city of Bombay.
See as I was telling you, take for example the problem of the old and dilapidated buildings in the city of Bombay. There are about 19,000 old buildings which are in different stages of decay and destruction. Sooner or later they will have to be demolished. If they're not demolished it may lead to a lot of... a big calamity and a lot of lives will be lost. MHADA has the necessary legal authority to demolish an old building and reconstruct it.
Now we have estimated that there are about 4 lakh tenements in these old and decaying buildings. If we are able to demolish all these old buildings and reconstruct the new buildings, instead of 4 lakh tenements we will beable to offer little more than 5 lakh tenements. So we will have 1 lakh surplus tenements in the old city of Bombay between Colaba to Mahim and Sion. Additional one lakh tenements could be constructed in that area. Those one lakh tenements if they're sold at market rate, the money accruing out of that market sale will be able to pay for the cost of construction if the entire...