1. Living in Mumbai
About Mumbai
Taxis and autos
Food, Activities, etc.
Other useful sites
2. Working at SPARC
General tips
Useful background materials.
SPARC Annual reports  and CityWatch
Legal Research
Research Guides
Major legal sources
The Constitution of India
Judgements Information System
Indian Legal code
Law Commission of India
Other useful links
3. Glossary Of Useful Terms, Acronyms And Acts
4. Past intern contacts


Mumbai is big, and the operations and networks of SPARC are complex. This guide has been put together to help newly arrived employees and interns with an intro to SPARC, tips on Mumbai, and directions to some useful background materials. Hopefully it will assist in navigating the highways and byways of this immense city, and the organisations playing a part in its future.

Things change quickly though, and it is hoped that this guide can be a living document. As you learn more about SPARC, and the city, feel free to add in relevant material or delete what is now out of date or redundant.
1. Living In Mumbai

About Mumbai

        Some fast facts:
  • The population of Mumbai is approximately 21 million (2010).
  • 65% of this population lives in slums, occupying only 8% of the land. Some parts of Bombay have the highest population density in the world (15,000 per  square kilometer (1990), some parts of central Bombay, it is 1 million per square kilometer
  • Only 12% of the rich vote, as opposed to 88% of the poor.
  • In Bombay, hardly 50% of the demand for toilet blocks is met, and 80% of the existing ones are dysfunctional
  • There are four train lines running through Mumbai, carrying around 6 million people every day. They have an official carrying capacity of 1750 but often carry up to 4000 people during peak hours.
  • Mumbai is home to one of Asia’s largest slums, Dharavi, with a population of almost 1 million.
  • It’s hard to find a house in Mumbai. The 1947 Bombay Rent Act froze rents to 1940 levels and also allowed the leases on flats to be transferred to the legal heirs of the tenants, without changing the rent. As a result, landlords do not want to improve the houses, and sometimes even have to bribe the tenants to move out of their flats. Many apartments lie empty as a result of this Act, with families refusing to give up their lease.
  • Riots broke out across Mumbai in 1992 due to growing religious tensions between the Hindu and Muslim population coming to a head with the demolition of the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya. The riots were led and encouraged by the Hindu nationalist Shiv Sena party. Previously harmonious communities were divided along religious lines. This has a great effect on Dharavi, where people earlier used to live together peacefully. Disruption of social capital
  • There were a series of coordinated bomb blasts across Mumbai on 12 March 1993 which are said to be a reaction to the severe atrocities perpetrated against Muslims during these riots. 

There are some great books, fiction and non-fiction, about Mumbai. For a start, try:

Maximum City: Suketu Mehta
Shantaram: Gregory David Roberts
A Fine Balance: Rohinton Mistry

Some great books on cities generally:

The Endless City: Ricky Burdett, et al
The Global Cities Reader: Neil Brenner, Roger Keil
Janice Perlman: Myth of Marginality
Shadow Cities: Robert Nuewirth
Power of Place: Harm De Blij
Mike Davis: Planet of Slums
The World Economy: Saskia Sassen
The City – Joel Kotkin (a history of how cities evolved)
State of the World Cities Reports
Urban Informality: Transnational Perspectives from the Middle East, Latin America, and South Asia.  Eds. Ananya Roy; Nezar AlSayyad.
Hernando De Soto Polar - "Law and Property Outside the West: A Few New Ideas About Fighting Poverty", NUPI. December 2002, pp. 349–361


Housing is in short supply in Mumbai, hence SPARC’s raison d’être.  Finding a place to stay while you are here will not be easy, and it’s important to be prepared for a stressful and hectic search. There are a couple of key web sites listed, but word of mouth is always best. Most ex-pats end up in Bandra, which is conveniently located with lots of night life, bars, restaurants, etc, but it’s probably the most expensive area too. Costs for accommodation in Bandra are anywhere from rs.10000 to 30000 per month, depending on whether you are sharing, have your own room, etc.

First it is important to understand the layout of Mumbai, and where the office is located in relation to different districts.  The office is on Khetwadi 1st Lane, Girgaon.  The closest train station is Charni Road station on the Western Line.  It is about 15 minutes walk from the office. 

Most districts within walking distance to the office are under rent control, and therefore it will be incredibly difficult to find a place within a normal budget.  Therefore, you should try to find a place near another Western Line station, so you can use the train to commute quickly and cheaply.

The closest districts with Western Line stations are:  Churchgate, Gamdevi and Breach Candy (Grant Road Station), Lower Parel, Mahalaxmi, and Dadar (E/W).  These stations are within a 30 minute train ride from Charni Road.

Further districts include Mahim, Matunga, Bandra (W), Khar, Santa Cruz and Andheri (E/W).  These can take up to 1 hour to reach.  However, some of the areas are more desirable because they have better amenities and night life.  For example, Bandra West is a very popular area among expats, and there are many restaurants, bars, clubs, theaters, and other amenities in that district.  It is also generally a more expensive place to live – both in terms of rents and costs of living.


Living Arrangements

There are a number of different types of accommodation you can choose from, and they all come with pros and cons.

  • Budget Hotels:  There are a number of affordable hotels (Rs. 400-1000 per day) in the Colaba area, which is south of Churchgate station.  Colaba is the touristy part of Mumbai, 10-20 minutes south of Churchgate station by walking.  The budget hotels are aimed at backpackers and low-budget tourists, so they do not have many amenities (no linens, common bathrooms, etc).  Some offer breakfast and/or shared internet.  Some have private bedrooms while others are dormitory style.  Past volunteers and interns have stayed in the Salvation Army, Hotel Lawrence, and India Guest House.
  • Working Women’s Hostels (sorry guys!):  Mumbai has many hostels for working single women who are working too far from their families to live at home.  These are usually dorm or shared bedrooms and shared bathrooms.  Some offer meals included in the rent, while others give access to a hot plate and fridge.  Most hostels have a curfew and strict rules about guests, to keep the parents happy.  These range in price but are usually around Rs. 5,000 per month.
  • Paying Guest (PG):  PG accommodations vary widely in terms of amenities and whether you will have a private or shared bedroom and bathroom.  You stay in a family’s house, sometimes with other PGs and sometimes alone.  They may offer you meals, or you may be responsible for your own food.  PGs are difficult to find without a broker, so you will likely need to pay a broker fee.  Rents range from Rs. 10,000 to 20,000 per month.
  • Private Apartment:  a private apartment offers the most freedom (no rules) but also is the most difficult accommodation to find.  You normally need a broker to help find an apartment, unless you are subletting.  Apartments also tend to be much more expensive, at about Rs. 20,000 to 30,000 minimum per month, plus utilities.

Unfortunately, SPARC does not have the resources to help you locate accommodations, but we are happy to offer insights and advice. If you find something that looks promising, and you want to know whether it is in a safe or good area, feel free to ask someone from SPARC. Good luck with your search!

You will likely not find a place to live before you arrive in Mumbai, so it’s best to start with a backup plan.  Make reservations in a budget hotel for the first few days after you arrive.  You can use those first days to search for cheaper, nicer accommodations.  Here are some resources to help you get started in your search:

  • Join the Bombay Expats Yahoo Group and Facebook Group.  There are regular postings for short-term sublets in decent apartments, especially in Bandra W and Andheri.
  • Use and to search for budget hotels, hostels, and paying guest accommodations.  If the same name/number appears frequently on the postings, you know it is a broker – try to avoid going through a broker where possible
  • Once you get to Mumbai, it is easier to go through a broker to find an apartment or paying guest.  You will have to pay a broker fee but they will do the job more quickly than you can.  Just be very clear and firm about your budget – do not let them talk you higher.
  • Use a guidebook like Lonely Planet or Footprint to find budget hotels.
  • BE VERY CAFEFUL about using craigslist! Almost everything on there is a scam.
Useful websites

Flats without brokers:
Lots of people post on this page, both offering and looking for accom.

Mumbai Expats:
A general page for Mumbai ex-pats, with events, connections, etc.  sometimes rooms are listed too.

Easy Roommate
This is a great website with lots of easily searchable listings. It’s worth paying for a short subscription though (about rs 300 for 10 days), otherwise it’s very difficult to access contact info, etc.

A few previous interns have used couchsurfing to good effect. It’s a great way to meet local Mumbaikers, and can possibly lead to a room if the person you couch surf with, or one of their friends, is looking for a roommate. If you are female, it’s probably safest to stay with other female hosts as there have been some uncomfortable experiences reported with male hosts – but of course this does not mean that this would happen to you! Just be sure to read people’s profiles (and reviews) thoroughly to get a good sense of their personality, what they expect from surfers, etc. 

Craigs List:

Be warned! While there are definitely some authentic listings, there are also lots of unsafe/scams ads posted on craigslist. Don’t pay any money before you have a key in your hand.





Trains are generally the best (and by far the cheapest) way to manage long distances, but they do get busy in peak hours. To avoid lining up for a ticket every trip, get a monthly or three monthly pass from the ticket counter (you’ll need a passport sized photo).

I’d suggest getting a pass that covers the whole of the line (e.g. Churchgate to Borivali if you live on the western line) which costs around rs150-500 for three months of unlimited travel. Highly recommend the first class option if you can afford it – much less squishy.  If you have to travel to a destination on one of the other lines than the one you have a pass for you’ll need to get another ticket.

Getting to SPARC from the railway station

You can walk directly up SVP road from Charni Road station to the SPARC office, however the road is pretty busy and noisy. A more interesting (but potentially longer if you get lost, which is very likely) route is through the back streets and lanes. Below is one possible route. When you get to Charni Rd Station, take the stairs up to the overhead walkway that runs parallel to MK Rd. There’s an exit off this walkway just past the Saffee Hospital. Take it, go down the stairs, and follow the lane through to J.Shanjer Sheth Rd. Cross the road and take the first right up Khadikar Rd, then wind you way through to 1st Khetwadi lane. Watch out for the guys moving 6 metre long lengths of steel.


The buses system in Mumbai is very extensive, reliable, and also linked up with googlemaps. Just search for directions between places and click the bus symbol.


Taxis and Autos

Mumbai taxis are very cheap are relatively, but you will often need to insist that they use the meter. If you are refused, just get out and hail another. Keep in mind that the driver may only know his local area, it’s best if you have a map or good directions. However, you can ask your driver to ask locals/shop owners for directions.

In the older style fait taxis the meter is out of date, but the driver will have an official conversion chart that you should ask to see before paying. A ballpark figure for the trip from Churchgate to Bandra is about rs 200-250, depending on what time of day you are travelling. Taxi prices go up after midnight. 

Autorickshaws only operate north of Mahim. Minimum charge is rs10. The metres are out of date also and there is a conversion chart that you should ask to see until you get used to the rates.


Food, Activities, etc.

There’s something on pretty much every night in Mumbai. A good place to start is TimeOut Mumbai – a website and monthly magazine (you can pick it up from any magazine stall (often on railway stations)). The Times of India and Hindustan Times also have good entertainment sections.

Cafes and Coffee:

Mumbai has quite a few coffee chains, the biggest amongst them Café Coffee Day, which has an outlet right near Charni Rd station, on Marine Drive. There are also a number of ‘Barista’ shops and ‘Coffee Bean & Tea Leafs’ dotted around the city.

In Bandra, some nice places to sit and relax are the Pali Hill Café, The Bagel Shop, the Yoga House, and Yellow Tree. All are listed on google maps.



Shiv Sagar: Best place for dosa and other delicious vegetarian Indian food, with a south Indian focus.

Janatas : one of the few Indian restaurants around where you can order a beer with your meal

Olive: Not super cheap, but great for very good European/fusion food.


Sumrat: Fantastic gujarati thali – do not leave without trying.


Blue frog  
Best club in town, music many nights of the week. Popular gigs can sell out, drinks are expensive. 

Bonobo: A rooftop bar off Linking Rd in Bandra – usually has music on weekends.

NCPA (National Centre for the Performing Arts) ( Great for classical music, theatre and dance.


Mumbai National Gallery of Modern Art ( Has a small permanent collection on the top floor, bottom two floors hold current exhibitions. Worth paying a visit just to see the beautiful gallery space.

Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya Museum ( Formerly the Prince of Wales Museum, holds a good collection of 20th century artefacts, as well as paintings, scupture, etc.


Other useful sites
Has advice/forums on just about anything you might like to know about India.
Good website for looking up air/rail/bus tickets. At the moment, seems to only accept Indian credit cards for bookings, but still useful for journey planning.
Another good site for booking tickets/travel planning, accepts foreign credit cards.


2. Working at SPARC


General tips

Don’t be afraid to ask -  what the current projects are, how you can help, where materials are located, where to get lunch, who to ask for tea. At any one time people could be working on projects ranging from reporting on the construction of a toilet block to planning a community-wide consultation at a local settlement. Everybody is busy, but also happy to help. 

Don’t be afraid to contribute - While there is clearly a director of SPARC and senior members of the team, the organisation is intentionally non-hierarchical. If you have an idea for a project, a comment, or suggestion, raise it.


Useful background materials.

The following documents give a good sense of the work that SPARC does, how it operates and current issues and themes. Endeavour to get your hands on them as soon as possible, if you haven’t already. Some are accessible on the internet, others will be in the office bookshelves.


SPARC Annual reports  and CityWatch

The annual reports are available on this website and give invaluable overview of SPARC activities and current agendas. Citywatch is (an annual/a quarterly) publication of the activities of the Foundation across India. It includes case studies, updates, statistics and project insights.



Documenting Informalities: Dharavi
This book was put together by a university based research group in association with SPARC. It is a comprehensive guide to all things Dharavi - with many articles, pictures, diagrams etc on history of Dharavi, life there as well as analysis and commentary on the plans its redevelopment.

This small volume gives an overview of the redevelopment plan, and the work that has been done to work towards a more inclusive and realistic outcome. Very helpful in terms of outlining the processes that have been gone through with the community, housing and industry profiles, etc.


Legal Research


Research Guides

A good starting point to familiarise yourself with the Indian legal system and research sources is A Guide to India’s Legal Research and Legal System, by Dr. R.K. Shrivastava, published by GlobalLex. It outlines the history and central tenants of the Indian legal system, gives an overview of Indian legal research methodology and sources and provides links to other relevant websites.


The American Library of Congress website also has a useful Indian Legal Research Guide with information and links to official sources of law, print sources, and further web resources.


Legal India is a legal service network and legal resource portal. It is useful for persons seeking legal advice, with links to advocate contact lists, etc, and also for legal researchers, with links to current cases and judgements, Law Commission reports, and latest Indian legal news.




Major legal sources

The Constitution of India:
The Constitution of India is the foundation of Indian law. Of particularly relevance to the work of SPARC is the recognition within it of certain basic fundamental rights for every citizen of India, such as the Right to Equality, the Right to Freedom, the Right against exploitation, the Right to Freedom of Religion, Cultural and Educational rights, and the Right to Constitutional Remedies

Any infringement of fundamental rights can be challenged by any citizen of India in the court of law.  The Constitution of India also prescribes some fundamental duties on every citizen in India.


Judgements Information System

Searchable full text data base of Supreme Court and selected High Court judgement.

Indian Legal code

The India Code Information System contains all Central Acts of Parliament right from 1836 onwards. Each Act includes: Short Title, Enactment Date, Sections, Schedule and also Foot notes.

Law Commission of India

The Law Commission of India is a useful source of information on current and past debates on law reform in India.

Its function is to review, provide commentary on and make recommendations or suggests amendments to Indian law. Recommendations can be made at the discretion of the Commission or upon request of the Government.


Other useful links

Mander, H. (2009) ‘The State and the Urban Poor in India’, presentation to the Shelter Security and Social Protection for the Urban Poor and the Migrants in Asia Workshop, Ahmedabad, India, February 11-13, 2009.

This power-point presentation provides a useful overview of the issues facing the urban poor in 2009, and describes legal barriers to improvement. It does not contain any specific provisions, but argues for a ‘human rights’ approach to laws relating to shelter and livelihood.

Law Reform Commission Reports
Law Commission of India (2009) Need for Ameliorating the lot of the Have-nots, Supreme Courts Judgements (

Five Year Plans,  Indian Planning Commission

Every five years The Planning Commission of India publishes a Five Year Plan, setting out goals, development and growth indicators for the country. Special Action Plans are drawn up for specific sectors reflecting the priorities of the government of the day.

For example, in the Ninth Five Year plan, emphasis was put on achieving the seven identified Basic Minimum Services (BMS), including provision of safe drinking water, availability of primary health service facilities, universalisation of primary education, public housing assistance to shelter-less poor families, nutritional support to children, connectivity of all villages and habitations and streamlining of the public distribution system with a focus on the poor.

While they are not binding, they can provide a useful framing device when making submissions to government and are also a way to hold the government to account in reaching development goals.

3. Glossary Of Useful Terms, Acronyms And Acts

ARC: Area Resource Centre
A physical space that SPARC sets up in each settlement in which we work to serve as a meeting place, a forum for discussions and events, and a base for pooling savings and distributing loans. The ARC is a crucial building block for creating a sense of community and mobilizing women within settlements, which in turn provides a foundation for collective action on larger housing, sanitation, and policy issues. There are 14 ARCs in Mumbai.

BMC: Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation
Municipal authority that manages public transport, electricity, sanitation and health (hospitals, garbage disposal, sewerage, water supply), public records and public spaces in Greater Mumbai. The BMC is responsible for drawing up and implementing the city’s development plan, enforcing building norms and development control regulations, and is a major landowner. Although municipal corporations do not have a direct mandate to work on slum improvement or affordable housing, they are involved in a variety of ways (as an implementing agent of state or central government schemes like JNNURM; as a landowner; in having to deal with relocation of informal settlements in inhabitable areas or as a result of infrastructure projects; and through declaring slums, conducting censuses, issuing photopasses and providing amenities). Established in 1888, the BMC was the first municipal corporation in India. The corporation is headed by a Municipal Commissioner, an IAS officer.

BSES: Baseline Socio-Economic Survey

This is a survey, usually by the government, to collect information about households before a project begins (i.e. housing, relocation). A BSES has also been sometimes used to confirm eligibility for the project. SPARC has executed several BSES’s using community surveyors.

BUDP: Bombay Urban Development Project
This joint program of the State Government of Maharashtra and the World Bank took off in 1985. The Slum Upgrading Program (SUP) was a primary component of BUDP.

CIDCO: City and Industrial Development Corporation
This agency was set up by the government of Maharashtra in 1970 as a development authority to manage formation of a twin city (now known as Navi Mumbai, or New Mumbai) across the harbour aimed at deflecting growth away from Greater Mumbai. This came in response to a rapid rise in population, industry, and commerce in Mumbai in the 1950s and 1960s and the perceived inability of its physical and social infrastructure to keep pace. The architect Charles Correa was a key figure in the planning of Navi Mumbai, which is today part of the Mumbai Metropolitan Region.

CLIFF: Community-Led Infrastructure Financing Facility
Occasionally dubbed a “venture capital fund for the poor,” CLIFF was designed to facilitate the transfer of funds directly to community organizations implementing housing and infrastructure initiatives developed by poor communities in urban areas. In particular, CLIFF functions as a financial catalyst in slum upgrading by providing strategic and financial support for housing and infrastructure projects that have the potential for scaling-up to the city level. CLIFF combines grant assistance from international donors with guarantee funds from Homeless International, which coordinates the facility globally. In India, CLIFF is being piloted by Nirman.

CRZ: Coastal Regulations Zone Act
Legislation approved by the Government of India in 1991 to restrict development on the Indian coast. Coastlines are divided into three zones: In Zone 1 (land between high and low tide lines), no development is allowed. In Zone 2 (land on which roads and other municipal services already exist), development is restricted. In Zone 3 (land on which structures and settlements already exist), no new development is allowed. Rules also apply to land along rivers, creeks, backwaters and estuaries.

FSI: Floor Space Index
An urban planning tool that represents the ratio of the permissible built-up area on a piece of land relative to the size of the plot. Providing extra FSI is a standard instrument among Mumbai redevelopment agencies of attracting private developers into slum upgradation projects. In general, FSI is restricted to 1.33 in the city and 1 in the suburbs. However, FSI rises to 2.5 for slum redevelopment in situ (3 FSI for a high-density area), or as high as 4 for land that is used to settle slum dwellers.

HIG: Higher Income Group, MIG: Middle Income Group, LIG: Lower Income Group, EWS: Economically Weaker Section
Still in currency today, these categories were formulated by the state in order to target housing developments to certain classes when it took primary responsibility for supplying housing after Independence.

HUDCO: Housing and Urban Development Corporation           
A public-sector company owned by the government of India. Although HUDCO must loan 70 percent of its funds to economically weaker sections and low-income groups, money rarely reaches the poor after funds are channeled through state government agencies or local bodies, which are supposed to disburse funds and insure repayment. An important obstacle to slum dwellers’ capacity to access loans is that they do not own the land they occupy and thus cannot offer their property as security. After long negotiations, HUDCO has agreed to lend to groups of the urban poor, provided that 15 to 25 percent be deposited with an NGO and that slum dwellers not be expected to move in the near future; however, this program has not taken off substantially.

JNNURM: Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission
An ambitious initiative of India’s central government to finance urban renewal and development projects in 63 selected cities. Scheduled to unfold over seven years beginning in 2005-06, the plan also comprises a Sub-Mission for Basic Services to the Urban Poor, which earmarks funding for integrated slum development through projects related to housing and infrastructure. JNNURM is implemented Urban Local Bodies (ULBs), who execute specified governance reforms before receiving funding.

Maharashtra Slum Areas (Improvement, Clearance and Redevelopment) Act
Enacted in 1971, this act inaugurated a shift in government slum policy away from a focus on clearance and towards the approach of slums as a housing solution. The Act made the state government responsible for initiating improvement works and providing basic civic amenities in notified slum areas on government lands. Passage of the Act had the undesired consequence of precipitating large-scale evictions of slum dwellers from private lands, until a state ordinance preventing protecting slums on all but central government lands. One of the legacies of this act is uneven development, as notified slum areas were given amenities and developed through investments by slum dwellers who perceived a degree of security or through government schemes, while undeclared and newer slums continue to be “illegal.” Such layers complicate efforts to deal holistically with the issue of slums.

Mahila Milan
Translated as “Women Together,” Mahila Milan is a network of women’s collectives that grew out of SPARC’s initial organizing efforts among female pavement dwellers in Byculla. Today, Mahila Milan heads local savings and loan schemes, organizes slum enumerations, and manages toilet block and housing construction, among other activities that vary based on local needs. The larger aim of these collectives is to empower women to play a greater role in community management and formation of broader policy issues.

MHADA: Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority
Created in 1977, this agency was charged with improving slums on government and private land and has been the main agency supplying public housing in the state. MHADA is the successor to the Housing Board; both entities developed as the state took up responsibility for supplying new housing stock when providing rented accommodation became unprofitable immediately after Independence. MHADA has provided only a small fraction of housing required to meet the needs of the state’s growing urban population.

MMRDA: Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority
A government body that plans and develops civic infrastructure in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region, which consists of 4355 sq. km., 468 sq. km. of which comprise Greater Mumbai. This is an apex body that coordinates the development activities of a number of municipal corporations and councils. MMRDA oversees MUTP and MUIP and previously coordinated the Mumbai Urban Development Project (MUDP).

MUIP: Mumbai Urban Infrastructure Project
Scheduled to be completed by the end of 2007, MUIP is a project to improve roads and traffic management in Mumbai overseen by MMRDA. SPARC has been invited to manage resettlement of most of the 35,000 households affected by the plan, most of whom are pavement dwellers.

Mumbai Rent Control Act
Introduced in 1947, this Act sought to freeze rents at 1940 levels and protect tenants from eviction. This legislation negatively impacted property tax collection and private investment in rental housing. The policy was revised in 1986 and 1993, but changes only applied to new properties.

MUTP: Mumbai Urban Transport Project
A Rs. 45 million government project to upgrade Mumbai’s public transportation system, overseen by the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA). Slated for completion in 2008, the project will displace an estimated 19,128 poor households that live in the path of planned development. Thanks to World Bank funding stipulations, the project includes a resettlement and rehabilitation (R & R) policy that offers affected families a free 225 sq ft. tenement or, where shifting has to be done urgently, transit accommodation of 120 sq. ft. with basic amenities; this is the first time that a central government agency has agreed to an R & R policy in an urban area. SPARC is responsible for resettling 20,000 households living along railway tracks. Of these, over 11,000 households have been resettled to either permanent (5000) or transit accommodation (6000). 

Nirman: Samudaya Nirman Sahayak
A non-profit construction company created by the Alliance in 1998 to carry out the increasing number of poor-led construction activities undertaken by SPARC. As an NGO, SPARC itself was ill-suited to manage large-scale construction projects. Nirman only takes on projects on the recommendation of the Federation and aims to demonstrate that poor-led construction projects are viable and often more effective than top-down development.

NSDF: National Slum Dwellers Federation
NSDF is a community-based organization of slum dwellers that was established in 1974 and entered into a working partnership with Mahila Milan and SPARC in 1987. Within the Alliance, NSDF is mainly responsible for organization, mobilization, and motivation of slum dwellers and building networks across the country and globally. Federation membership currently spans over 70 cities in nine states within India. NSDF was founded by its present, Jockin Arputham, in response to the violent eviction of 70,000 people from Janata Colony, the Mumbai slum in which he grew up, during The Emergency.

PMGP: Prime Minister’s Grant Project
Announced by Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in 1985 and administered by the state government, this program provided a grant of Rs.100 crore (Rs.1 Billion) towards improving the living conditions of slum dwellers in Mumbai. A large portion of the fund (around 35 cores of rupees) was earmarked for the redevelopment of Dharavi, where slum dwellers were offered a choice between tenure legalization (similar to SUP) and slum reconstruction, which involved demolition of existing slums and redevelopment of new housing on the original site. Both options were offered on a cost-recovery basis, with the PMGP providing beneficiaries with interest-free loans. Demand for redevelopment exceeded that for tenure legalization and “self help.” Under the former, co-operatives of slum dwellers received tenements of 18 square metres. Although PGMP managed to achieve its goals in some areas, the project was plagued by poor cost recovery, delays in construction, shortage of transit camps, selling off of tenements due to high cost, and dissatisfaction and low participation among beneficiaries. However, PGMP marked an important shift in slum policy beyond isolated improvement works to large-scale redevelopment projects.

SDI: Slum/ Shack Dwellers International
A network of community federation groups and their partner NGOs in 23 countries, this organization grew out of the work of the Alliance in India. Jockin Arputham, President of the National Slum Dwellers Federation, also heads SDI.

SIP: Slum Improvement Program
Launched by the Government of Maharashtra in 1971, this program represented a policy shift from slum clearance to slum improvement. Under the program, the government officially recognized some slum areas, conducted slum censuses, issued identity documents to slum dwellers, and began bringing in some amenities.

Slum Clearance Scheme
The Government of India undertook this controversial scheme to demolish slums in 1956. Mumbai was one of the six pilot cities covered under the scheme. This initiative demonstrates the policy of slum clearance that characterized official posture on the problem of slums prior to 1971. Slum dwellers were viewed as unwelcome encroachers in the city who could be forced to return to the village. Later policy shifts stemmed from recognition that migrants would not return to rural areas because their lives depended on employment in the city, and that the city depended on their labor.

SRA: Slum Rehabilitation Authority
A state-level government agency set up in 1995 under the Slum Rehabilitation Act to serve as the main planning authority for slum upgradation. This agency administers construction under the “SRA scheme,” which in Mumbai, entitles slum and pavement dweller families that can prove residence prior to January 1, 1995, to a free 225 sq. ft. housing unit; the minimum area was raised to 269 sq. ft. in 2008. The parameters differ somewhat in other cities. The scheme also offers extra building rights that can be sold in the open market to private developers as an incentive for developing slums. Slum landowners, co-operative societies of slum dwellers, NGOs or any real estate developer may serve as a developer, providing 70 percent of eligible slum dwellers sanction the project. Although the scheme was welcomed by many as an effective means of subsidizing housing for the urban poor, the policy has been criticized for encouraging piecemeal development, neglecting employment and infrastructure needs of the poor, and promoting high-rise buildings, which are more expensive to construct and maintain and may be ill-suited to the lifestyles of the urban poor.

SRD: Slum Redevelopment Scheme
A scheme introduced by the Government of Maharashtra in 1991 that was the first to use permission for and sale of additional built-up space to encourage the participation of private developers in slum redevelopment. Builders were permitted to build extra floor space, which they could sell for profits of up to 25% of the project cost after rehousing slum dwellers in 180 sq. ft. tenements. Leases were awarded to co-operatives of slum dwellers, which were required to pay US$1500 — $500 as a down payment and the rest as a loan payable over 15 years; the contribution of beneficiaries was 23% (Rs.15000). Eighty-six proposals were approved under this scheme. The scheme has been criticized for increasing density, shortage of transit accommodation, high maintenance costs, and excluding slum dwellers that could not prove their residence before 1985. This program was replaced by the Slum Rehabilitation Scheme in 1995.

SRS: Slum Rehabilitation Scheme
Launched in 1995 when the Shiv Sena came to power in the state government of Maharashtra, this policy, which evolved out of the earlier Slum Redevelopment Scheme (SRD), differs from its predecessor by opening eligibility to slum dwellers included in the electoral roll of 1 January 1995, as well as to pavement dwellers; by increasing area of tenements to 225 square feet; by offering tenements free of cost; and by removing SRD’s cap on developers’ profits of 25% of the project cost. The scheme also introduced Transfer of Development Rights (TDR), allowing the transfer of permissible built-up area to another site and sale of building rights on the open market. The scheme allows cooperative societies, public housing organizations, NGOs, or private companies to act as developers and requires consent of 70% of affected slum dwellers. The scheme was to be completed in five years, covering 2,335 slum pockets and 902,015 huts. By the end of 2000, 60,000 tenements were under construction. The implementation record for the scheme has been poor. However, the Alliance has been involved in many projects under SRS, both as developers and as facilitators of resettlement and rehabilitation.

SUP: Slum Upgrading Program
Part of the World Bank-sponsored Bombay Urban Development Project (BUDP) launched in 1985, SUP aimed to improve slums through tenure legalization. Through this program, the World Bank was one of the first international agencies to promote the “self-help” strategies put forth by John Turner in opposition to the previous Modernist paradigm of slum clearance and renewal. The rationale was that tenure legalization led to improvement and consolidation of housing by slum dwellers themselves. SUP sought to provide renewable, 30-year leases to 100,000 households within five years for in situ upgrading on a cost-recovery basis. Ultimately, by the time the program closed in 1994, it had provided tenure to only 22,204 households.

TDR: Transferable Development Rights
Permission for extra building space − a right that can be sold on the open market − that the government offers to private developers as an incentive for constructing affordable housing.

ULB: Urban Local Body
Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) provide basic infrastructure and services in cities and towns. In large urban areas, the ULB is a municipal corporation, whose jurisdiction is further divided into wards, each of which is represented through one or more elected corporators and may have an administrative body known as a ward committee. In smaller urban areas, the ULB is a municipal council, municipal board, or municipal committee. 

Urban Land (Ceiling and Regulation) Act
Enacted by the central government in 1976, this law aimed to achieve a more equitable distribution of land by putting a ceiling of 500 square meters on vacant urban land that could be held by a single private owner. Excess land was supposed to be returned to the government for purposes of housing the poor. In practice, landowners by-passed the act through loopholes, and restrictions actually reduced the supply of formal land. The state government of Maharashtra acquired only 40 hectares of land under the law in 26 years. Thousands of acres of land in Mumbai alone were locked up in legal limbo. The law was repealed at the center in 1999 and in Maharashtra – one of the last states to retain the law – in November 2007. Repeal has unlocked 5200 hectares of land in the state. While some assert that real estate prices will fall when locked-up land is brought into the market, others argue that the shortage of commercial and residential space in Mumbai will keep prices beyond the reach of the poor. 


4. Past intern contacts:

(If you are happy to be contacted by new interns you could list your contact details, projects you worked on and what dates you were here, etc)

Mitra Anderson-Oliver
November 2011 – January 2012
Project: Law and informality project – analysis of local laws the effect the urban poor (housing and livlihoods); editing; intern guide.