Slum Movements

Mahakali Nagar, Worli


The Mahakali Nagar case was an interesting and successful representation Nivara Hakk made on behalf of the 1,500 families who had lived atop the British-built storm water drains in Worli – the largest in Mumbai Island city – for over 30 years. The issue became live when the massive double barrel drain lines collapsed at two places and 4 people perished sometime in August 1993. To carry out urgent repairs and prevent further collapse, nearly 300 houses were demolished and evicted. The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) began identifying through MHADA 3 possible alternative sites. It is at this stage that the Mahakali Nagar residents, sensing widescale demolition and eviction, approached Nivara Hakk to represent them.

The BMC, using the tragedy of the collapse, saw an opportunity to reclaim the land for the 120-feet road to serve the Regional Passport Office Area it was earlier earmarked for. The BMC argued that the link between Worli Sea Face (Khan Abdul Gafar Khan Road) and the arterial north-south Dr. Annie Besant Road was essential. It also claimed that central Mumbai gets flooded due to blockages that can't be repaired because of the slum during the monsoons resulting in traffic snarls and loss of crores of rupees.

Nivara Hakk represented that a humanitarian approach needed to be followed and involved the then Chief Minister Sharad Pawar in August 1993 to find a solution. In the first stage, the first batch of 250 residents shifted to Anandnagar, Andheri west to make way to open the sewer mains for repairs. The BMC however agreed that those whose houses don't disturb the main storm water lines would be allowed to continue.

In the second round in May 1994, another batch of 450 families voluntarily shifted out vacating the entire space above the sewer mains. These families were allotted alternative pitches in far off Malvani and underwent the ordeal of staying with relatives in transit tin sheds while awaiting the clearance of their redevelopment scheme by the BMC. Of these, 120 families of this batch have not been approved for alternative accommodation.

In the final round, in April 1995, the BMC dropped its ruse of 'repair of storm water drains' and launched its project to complete a wide feeder road connecting Worli Seaface with Annie Beasant Road at the old Passport Office. On April 19 and 20, 1995, demolition of the last batch of 950 slum homes was ordered. NHSS appealed to the BMC and State Govt. to avert this avoidable tragedy and explore a more humane alternative with the people's representatives. On 20th April 1995 200 homes were razed and then demolitions continued in batches.

While south Mumbai got its gleaming connector road from the Worli Seaface, the action of Mahakali Nagar residents shifted to Malvani, near Malad, where a resettlement colony was earmarked for them. It is largely because of the constant lobbying and agitation led by Nivara Hakk that the alternative site was provided, proper civic amenities and access roads. Issues of providing all the eligible Mahakali residents with pitches continued into September 1996.

Simultaneously, Nivara Hakk helped the Mahakali residents committee develop a slum rehabilitation scheme under the SRA with Skyline Builders. This was sanctioned for the first phase in May 1996, for 485 resident families with an FSI of 2.5. The deal also provided for the builder constructing transit accommodation for 300 families who had no alternative, till the project was completed. Provision was also made to build 26,000 sq ft built up area to house municipal employees by the builder since the plot was reserved for Municipal employees. It was free of cost to the BMC but the area will not deductible from the FSI. The entire bargaining process with the builder for the best deal possible was conducted by Nivara Hakk representatives.

Many of those who benefited from the rehab sold out and left the colony in years to come. Some continued. However, this was the classic case of Nivara Hakk intervening almost like a trade union to get the best deal and facilities possible when preventing the shifting of a slum became impossible.


Struggle Chronology


19th April 1989 – Letter to CM, demolition of Marie Amman Nagar, Worli behind Vallabhai Patel Stadium till one grove pumping station behind Nehru centre, worli settled around 1980.

On 11th April 1989, BMC ward officer of G South demolished 200 huts of Marie Amman Nagar and 43 huts of neighbouring Vivekanand Nagar. Personal belongings taken away.

Land belongs to State Govt. Ward officer has no jurisdiction over it. No demolition notice given. No alternate site give. Action illegal as they are before 1985 and are entitled to alternative accommodation before demolition.

NHSS met CM Sharad Pawar – he agreed to look into the matter and explore possibilities of giving alternate accommodation force residents if the land involved was needed by Nehru science centre. He suggested to meet state housing Minister Dr.Sherekaer to settle the matter.


10th July 1991 – Report by the designers, buildings, landscapes and interiors located at Gundecha Chambers, fort.

1500 families live in Mahakali Nagar zopadpatti. It covers existing sewer line of Worli, known as Worli gutter.
According to revised DP the area above sewer line is reserved for 120 feet wide link way between Khan Abdul Gafar Khan Road and Dr.Annie Besant Road. Due to the blockage, central Bombay gets flooded every monsoon resulting in loss of crores of rupees.


13rd Aug 1993 – Request CM Sharad Pawar to meet around 16-20th Aug to discuss Mahakali Nagar

The double barrel drain has collapsed at two places and 4 people have died. Nearly 300 houses demolished and evicted. We have identified MHADA land at three places which may be considered for rehabs.


17th April 1995 – Press Release
Thereatened demolition of nearly 1000 hutments at Mahakali Nagar, Prabhadevi
The BMC is all set to demolish 1000 hutments of 30 yrs odld Mahakali Nagar, a recognized 'slum' situated behind Worli Bus depot. The scheduled dates for demolition is April 19 and 20th.

Since the past few years the BMC has been pressing that a section of slum dwellers shift to alternate sites.

In 1993, 250 residents shifted to Anandnagar, Andheri west to make way to open the sewerage mains for repairs.

In May 1994 another batch of 450 families voluntarily shifted out vacating the entire space above the sever mains. These families have been allotted alternative pitches in far off Malvani and are currently undergoing the ordeal of staying with relatives in transit tine sheds while awaiting the clearance of their redevelopment scheme by the BMC, 120 families of the batch have not even been approved for alternative accommodation.

Now the BMC has issued fresh notice of demolition for the remaining basti. Last year it had been agreed that those who don't disturb work on sewerage drains will not be disturbed. Significantly, even after clearing 700 huts above the sewers no work since the last monsoon has been done to salvage the drains.

And now it wants to demolish 950 houses not to clean the drains but to expand a DP road.
All pleas to discuss demolition were dismissed .
The residents in all invested Rs.5 crores in their houses.
Locals will be forced on pavements at the mercy of the element.

NHSS has appealed to the BMC and State Govt. to avert this avoidable tragedy and explore a more humane alternative with the peoples' representatives.

20th April 1995 – 200 huts razed at Worli (Midday)
Contractor could not take machinery inside to construct storm water drain inspite machinery sanctioned.
870 huts are to be demolished

Times of India- BMC demolishes Worli hutments
21st April'95 – Worli hutment demolition continues


9th Sept 96 - Letter to CEO, SRA
We are surprised to know that pitches at Malvani are being marked for some other slums. The SRD scheme has been sanctioned for new Mahakali Nagar via letter of intent dated 20th May 1996. Hence stop any such activity.
Malvani project involves re-settlement for 485 families.
70% families have given consent
2.5 FSI for slums land
300 families on site will have to be given transit accommodation

Since the plot is reserved for Municipal employees, housing with built-up area of approximately 2600 sq.m would have to be provided free of cost to the corporation but the area will not be deducted from the FSI.