Slum Movements


Sanjay Gandhi Nagar, Nariman Point (Sangharsh Nagar)

There was serious pressure from the residential buildings of the rich and well heeled. One of them was the government building 'Sarang' that was occupied by top bureaucrats, some ministers and judges. Interestingly, most of the maids and cooks in these buildings were ladies from Sanjay Gandhi Nagar. The State government promised alternative plots to those slum dwellers whose names appear in the census conducted between 1976 & 1980 or whose names are in electoral rolls before 1980, but there were hardly any from Sanjay Gandhi Nagar who fell in this 'rehab' bracket.

Sanjay Nagar was a scene of despair as slum dwellers sought to salvage their belongings and protect their young ones from getting hurt. Demolition squad, protected by at least eight trucks loads of police, carried away tin scaffolding and other structural materials that had ironically been given to them by the government only a few months earlier in November 1985 following a devastating fire. It housed 2,000 people, while the demolition squad consisted of 500 uniformed men. Demolition affected many workers and students of the colony.

The families then took refuge on the footpaths across the road, and received support from Nivara Hakk. Shabana Azmi and Anand Patwardhan along with local residents launched a protest fast. The struggle went on over several months and saw marches and gheraos of the collector and Housing minister V Subramanian, and was widely reported by the media. Ultimately, the government yielded and the Rehavasi Sanghatna and Nivara Hakk succeeded in acquiring land for rehab of 13,928 sq.m. (approximately 3.5 acres) in Dhindoshi, near Goregaon. The land, deeply quarried to 40 ft depth, was a private deal negotiated by then housing secretary D K Afzalpurkar with the F.E Dinshaw Trust, and then handed over to the Sanjay Gandhi Rehvasi Sanghatana and the Nivara Hakk Welfare Centre. in the year 1990-1991.

While around 3 acres was transferred to Sanjay Gandhi Rehvasi Sanghatna for rehabilitation of the evicted families, 0.5 acre was transferred to Nivara Hakk for development of facilities and a centre of advocacy for slum-dwellers and housing rights.

However, problems for the slum dwellers did not stop after the March 1986 demolitions. As they made the footpaths their homes, on 15th December 1990, massive demolition drive took place in south Mumbai, and 3000 hutments were removed in 20 days. Of these, 800 huts were demolished at P. D'Mello road. The footpaths which were freed were excavated to merge with the road and rest were converted to parking areas. In some areas footpaths were beautified with trees leaving some area for pedestrians. Sanjay Gandhi Nagar residents joined the larger struggle for housing rights which also helped to highlight their cause.

In the meantime, Nivara Hakk had already approached the world bank to support development work in various slums. Sanjay Gandhi Nagar, rehabilitated in Dindoshi, Goregoan needed leveling and land filling, sewage system for 300 hutments, construction of toilets at various points, water distribution system, access road and internal pathways and boundary fencing. Till 1993, the BMC did not carry out any land filling work as promised.

For four years, the land allocated to Sanjay Gandhi Nagar at Dindoshi was vacant. Activist P K Das suggested that Nivara decide a layout system for the co- operative Housing society and lease the slum dwellers to do their building. Gurbir Singh suggested distributing the plots and registering the society. Rs.250 each was collected from slumdwellers and deposited. The money was used for building toilets.

It was self-help housing at Sangharsh Nagar. People here as in most other slums and squatter settlement built their own houses and developed the common areas. The materials used in the construction of houses and the size of the house depended upon its affordability of each family. Their priority of spending for housing was very low with their limited income as medical care, children's education, clothing and food was more important. Therefore, houses were built gradually as and when money was available. Renovating, upgrading and strengthening became part of this housing process. As a result houses were built independently and grew differently, the expressions reflecting their needs and life-styles and their economic condition and also their attitudes and interaction.

Planning for the rehabilitation of a 'slum' had to necessarily incorporate the above realities while generating harmony and an identity. Nivara prepared a layout plan outlining the position of common toilets, water taps, community centre, society office, accesses and open spaces. The plan proposed plots larger than the plinth area of every house in order to create a compulsory, open-to-sky space, a place to cook, sit out, wash clothes and sleep. Common, open spaces were along the accesses, forming chowks for get-togethers and spaces for the children to play. Since every house was to be built and extended according to the individual's means, subsequent repairs and maintenance too became simple without dependence on professional help, nor linked to the status or consent of neighbours. An open space in the north, along the hill, acted as a buffer and protected the houses from possible landslides. A fairly large part was to be used for common facilities such as toilets and water taps. Also, extensive tree plantation was planned. A large, common space required for get-togethers, festivals and children to play was provided along with the welfare centre.

Some part of the scientific town planning and layout was implemented, but for most residents of the new colony at Dhindoshi, their aspiration lay in living in multi-story buildings. The opportunity came when around 2005 (get exact year and date), a local builder J P Infrastructure, promoted by Vijai Jain, offered a rehabilitation package to the residents. Sanjay Gandhi Rehvasi Sanghatna, after detailed negotiations, entered into an agreement for the development of their 3-acre property. The broad outline of the agreement is: JP Infra would construct 300 sq ft homes in 20-story buildings in situ in one part of the property; each resident would receive Rs 6 lakh as ex gratia payment; and rent of premise would be reimbursed during the period of this construction. (Get exact details)

After entering into this agreement, the project is being implemented currently as a Slum Rehabilitation Authority (SRA) project with the 300 residents to be accommodated in 2 20-story buildings in around one-third of the plot, while the remainder 2 acres or so will be used by the builder J P Infra to develop semi-luxury 2 and 3 BHK apartments for free sale in the housing market to cross subsidize the one-room tenements and to make a margin of profit for itself. Occupation for the residents of Sanjay Gandhi Nagar has been promised by end 2014.

From Nivara Hakk's point of view, the residents, who had fought a heroic battle for homes and shelter and won, thereafter squandered a great opportunity to develop for themselves a progressive and modern community and neighbourhood with minimum density and without going into multi-story buildings which will over the years demand a heavy price for maintenance. Effectively, nearly two acres of land, won with the blood and sweat of slum-dwellers has passed into the hands of a for-profit middle class housing project.

'Planning and Development work undertaken by Nivara Hakk'


Struggle Chronology


13th March, 1986 - 400 huts demolished at Sanjay Nagar slum at Nariman Point
Indian Express
- demolished on Jagannath Bhosale Marg
(Nariman Point) by BMC
- no warning given
- Locals received demolition notice in November, January and then approached
housing minister Dr.V. Subramanium directly.
- They requested that they wanted to create a co-operative society among the Sanjay Nagar slum community, they requested the minister to allow them to construct buildings on the same plot of land where they are present or allocate an alternative site.
- Following this meeting a survey was planned by Sanghathan but the demolition came as a surprise to the slum-dwellers.
- No alternate accommodation was provided
- Adjoining Shiv Shakti Nagar slum was untouched because of their allegiance to the Shiv Sena and they have been promised a roof in the transit camp at Malavani.
- Acc. To Collector, this land was earmarked for Post & Telegraph dept, Fire Brigade Dept. and the proposed new MLA hostel. The demolitions were due to complaints from them.
- According to Mr.Patil alternative facilities will be provided to those slum dwellers whose names appear in the census conducted between 1976 & 1980 or whose names are in electoral rolls before 1980.
- Sanjay Nagar was a scene of despair as slum dwellers sought to salvage their belongings and protect their young ones from getting hurt.
- Demolition squad, protected by at least eight trucks loads of police, carried away tin scaffolding and other structural materials that had ironically been given to them by the govt. only a few months earlier following a devastating fire.

-Daily, 14thMarch 1986 – 400 huts razed at Nariman Point
-It housed 2000 people
-Squad consisted of 500 uniformed men, 25 trucks demolished the huts
-It was engulfed by fire in Nov 1985
-Demolition affected many workers and students of the colony
-Municipal Counselor Suresh Narvekar who resisted demolitions was threatened by an officer.
-SGN Rahavasi Sanghatana also suspected foul play by high ranking Ministers including housing minister.
-Willing to shift if alternate land provided
-Sangnatan decided to submit a memorandum to Dr.V. Subramanian

-March 1986 – 350 families evicted, took refuge on the footpaths across the road, received support from Azmi and Patwardhan, and launched protest fast until the govt. yielded. Succeeded in acquiring land per rehab of 13928 sq.m. in Dhindoshi (quarry upto 40 ft deep)


Free Press – 20th Jan 1988

According to circumstantial evidence, majority of fire in the city plunge are cases of arson.
3265 huts devastated in 7 fires from October-December 1987
16,325 people affected

26th March, 1988 – Probe into slum fire assured
Chief Minister assured investigation.


15 December 1990 – Civic squads demolish huts on footpaths- The Independent

-Massive demolition drive, 3000 hutments removed from South Bombay in 20 days. 800 huts at P. D'Mello road

-The footpaths which were freed were excavated to merge with the road and rest will be converted to parking areas.

-In some areas footpaths would be beautified with trees leaving some area for pedestrians

-Industrial houses should adopt footpath near their offices – BMC commissioner K Padmanabhiah.

-Since the Supreme Court had not barred the removal of any object that encroached on the civic properties household materials were demolished too.

-He had requested the State govt. to allot some land to the BMC to rehabilitate the families who were dishoused.

8th May 1990 – Letter by NHSS to World Bank. Request to support development work in various slums.

Sangharsh Nagar Dindoshi Goregoan-

1. Leveling & Land filling
2. Sewage system for 300 hutments
3. Construction of toilets at various points
4. Water distribution system
5. Access road and internal pathways
6. Boundary fencing


12th Sep 1991 – Call for meeting of Executive Committee of NHSS

21st June 1991 – To senior inspector of police- Approval protection for constructing compound wall at NH Welfare Centre, Malad East.

1991 – Case filed by NHWC & SGNRS against Sheru, Anwar, Sukoor & Galil for encroaching, trespassing, creating disturbances on plot at Gen.A.S.Vaidya Marg, Malad East.


1st January 1993 – Request for aid out of Chief Minister's discretionary funds to carry out infrastructure for providing site and services to Sanjay Gandhi Nagar Slum Dwellers.

200 families on thatched huts
Tentative cost Rs.40,26,000/- (more details in letter)
Also issue orders to M.C. Bombay for approving layout of the pitches to provide site and services to SGN.

31st January 1993 – Letter to senior police inspector, Dindoshi, Goregaon obstruction in relief work and threat to life.
Three goons demanding free food and clothes , claimed to be riot victims but they were not bonafied victims.

10th May 1993 – Letter to Tasneem Kadwani, Sr.officer, operations credit.
Sub: Housing loan to Sanjay Gandhi Nagar, Goregaon consider individual loans to members of society.

24th August, 1993 – Letter to Dr.Murlidharan V
M.S. General Surgery, LTM Medical College and Surgeon, Sion Hospital
Blue print of proposed Health centre, lost 8 lakhs


12th June, 1995 – Proposal from Kartik constructions to redevelop plot 267 of village Malad East.

18th September 1995 – Letter to BMC Commissioner from NHSS land purchased from F.E. Duisharo trust by the intervention of govt. of Maharashtra and the Bombay Municipal corporation.

Met Sudha Bhave several times since 1993. The land is an exhausted quarry. Land filling needs to be carried out. Promises made of land filling but work yet to begin.
Request to extend co-operation.

9th October, 1995 – 'Lok Mumbaiche' awards presented- Indian Express
Armed forces of Navy Nagar, Colaba were awarded for keeping the cantonment area green.

3rd November'95 – Govt. to establish panel for monitoring slum rehabs scheme.
Indian Express


Sept 9, 1996 – Concerned citizens of Cuffe Parade write a letter to the BMRDA commissioner and Chief Minister Manohar Joshi to oppose the proposed Heliport and not just a helipad, damaging effect due to the noise, air and dust pollution, physiological and psychological impact on near localities including slums.

21st March 1996 – NGO accused of usurping slum-dwellers land (Indian Express Newsline)

NHSS was accused of usurping land allotted solely for the purpose of resettling slum dwellers and also misappropriating their money.

NHSS said issue was fabricated. Allegation was instigated by some builders who want to usurp the land under the slum redevelopment scheme. There was no question of misappropriation.

A resident of Sanjay Gandhi Rahivasi Sanghatana had alleged that land measuring 0.5 acre, of the 3.5 acre solely of JB Road, Cuffe Parade, Colaba has been surreptitiously transferred to N.H. Welfare centre. Earlier land was allotted by F.E Dinshaw Trust 1986. The intention was to rehabilitate the families dislodged during the demolition of the Sanjay Gandhi Nagar slum near Cuffe Parade, Colaba.

Residents said land was reserved for a garden. The petition further alleges that though the earlier intentions were noble, the problems started after the land was de-reserved and made suitable for habilitation. It also accuses Anna Kurien the treasurer of misappropriation of funds from Sanjay Gandhi Trust. According to the petition, no balance sheet has been filed with the Charity Commissioner, as statutorily required since March 1989. About Rs.45 lakhs have been deposited in the trust's account from Jan 1, 1986 and December 20, 1995. About 204 cheques have been issued without explanation.

Kurien denied these allegations. Allegations designed to malign our work. Ulterior design of some builders. They will not be able to get an inch of the land now as the land was registered under a trust. (details Feb 11-17, 1996) , Sunday Observer.