Resettlement & Rehabilitation (R & R) Projects

Resettlement & Rehabilitation (R & R) Projects

Poor women have always maintained – “We don’t want to live along the pavement or the railway tracks or in a slum. But when we can’t afford housing, we have to live on these lands because they are close to where we work, even if it is dangerous for our children.”

The city has always reacted to this situation with evictions. Until very recently there were no examples of successful large-scale resettlement in cities. Whenever municipalities wanted a piece of land, they simply evicted all the poor families living there. Even in the few cases when the municipality did provide alternate land, the poor were just dumped in places far from the city with hardly any provisions for water, infrastructure or jobs. Invariably, these poor communities were forced to come back to the city and build a shack in a new slum or pavement. It was a history of complete failure.

But a peaceful and sustainable solution does exist. And the experience of the alliance of SPARC, NSDF and Mahila Milan demonstrates how to create win-win partnerships between the poor and the city.

Relocation and Rehabilitation
The Alliance has been engaged in the work of rehabilitation and relocation of the urban poor from various locations, including pavements, airport, railway tracks and slums in general. As result of a 2009 court decision, municipalities engaging in urban infrastructure projects are now required to resettle displaced households. The Alliance has been engaged in many efforts to smooth and enable the participation of affected families in the R&R process. Since the Alliance is also dealing with emerging issues of land and tenure, this is a situation where pavement, railway and airport slum dwellers have no other option but to be relocated.

SPARC has been appointed as the nodal agency and the middleman for rehabilitation and relocation of project affected families under the Mumbai Urban Infrastructure Project (MUIP) and Mumbai Urban Transport Project (MUTP). Under the MUIP, families that are affected by work on infrastructure projects like road widening, constructing fly-overs or foot over-bridges, have been relocated to SRA housing. As part of the MUTP, families living along the railway tracks and roads are relocated to permanent dwellings and given legal title to their new housing.

In this process of shifting and relocating, the Alliance’s role has been to organize the communities so that they are involved in the planning and execution of all the activities in partnership with the government. Initiating dialogue with the families, assisting in the shift, helping with forming societies and their registrations and family paperwork has been an ongoing process for the Alliance and in their role as mediator and support provider.

The most important element for successful resettlement is strongly organised poor communities that can plan and execute all activities in collaboration with the state.

A key mobilisation tool of federation is community-led surveys. Here, all details about the slum settlement and each individual household are collected, debated, verified and analysed by the local residents. This information is used both as an organising strategy - to bring people together to understand their collective issues - and as a powerful basis for negotiations with local authorities regarding land tenure, more resources for the settlement, and also upgrading of houses.

When municipalities want to undertake public projects which involve the shifting of families living in slums and pavements, this community-led survey is again initiated and formalised. Strong community leadership ensures that vulnerable families are not excluded, correct information about households is collected, disputes are resolved, and that the shifting stages, options and process is publicly debated to ensure transparency and fairness for all involved.

Our history in designing large scale R&R In the 1990s, the Suburban Railways of Mumbai, which are the city’s life line, were falling apart. However, because slums encroached as close as 5 feet from the track, the authorities were unable to maintain or expand the lines. To undertake such a project meant that some 20,000 households would have to be relocated. Slum dwellers on pavements, railway, airport and other lands have been members of the National Slum Dwellers federation for over two decades. In the late 1980s they had designed a strategy for community driven relocation. When the railways began talking of expanding the lines, the federations, through an alliance with SPARC, the NGO that works with them, presented their idea to the state government and Railways. But nobody believed this was possible.

In 1998, about 800 families from the Railway Federation who were living along a stretch of the Central tracks decided to pioneer this process. Along with the state and Railways they worked out a solution -- the government provided the land, the Railways provided the infrastructure, and the communities demolished their own homes, built transit houses themselves and organised their shifting. No police force was used.


Mumbai Port Trust Relocation
For many years now, SPARC has been in dialogue with the Mumbai Port Trust (MbPT) over the issue of resettlement of slum dwellers living on land owned by the MbPT and the Central Railway. When the MbPT decided that it wanted to build a dedicated goods line between Wadala and Kurla, it commissioned SPARC to undertake a Baseline Socio-Economic Survey (BSES) of households that would be affected by this work. Approximately 1500-2000 structures are likely to be affected through this project.

Tata Power
Tata Power Company, which produces and supplies electricity to Mumbai and other cities, is in the process of expanding its production and distribution networks and in that process, it needs to upgrade its distribution towers. One of the problems identified when planning for the upgrading was of slum dwellers squatting under and around the towers. Removing the slum dwellers was vital, but the company did not want to be party to evicting them. Having seen the work of SPARC, NSDF and Mahila Milan in the relocation undertaken for public projects, Tata Power approached SPARC to explore the possibility of working together to plan relocation for these households. As of today, 183 families affected by this project have been relocated to Bhakti Park, Wadala.

Airport Relocation
In February 2011, the Alliance has been contracted to prepare for and conduct a household enumeration for more than 100,000 families living on airport land including issuing biometric I.D. cards. The Alliance signed a contract with the airport authority to help facilitate the resettlement of these households currently living in the airport slums. The Alliance will also help the inhabitants of the slum prepare for relocation, including reviewing the available tenement housing and working to make sure it is suitable, organizing savings and planning logistics for the move in such a way as to keep the community as intact as possible. Post-relocation, the Alliance will work to ensure maintenance of the buildings is kept up and help support households through the transition phase, helping them get ration cards, complete any final paperwork and re-start work.

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