After exploring government housing (VAMBAY - Bhima Maidan) where most of the tenants consisted of people that were relocated from slums along the nala's, we wanted to look at the existing slums along the nala's. So we looked at a nala near the VAMBAY project itself.
This stretch along the nala consists of a reasonably wide gamut of people that have settled here ranging from multistoreyed buildings to tiny tin roofed sheds all in small foot prints. Showing people who held on to their land probably expanded as their livelihoods improved. This is a hard to prove fact as the land could've been purchased by more enterprising people from around that lead to these developments. However there still is a significant population living in very high density housing along the banks of the nala.
Our first stop today was a small cluster that organised itself along either side of what looked to be a narrow lane leading right into the nala, perpendicular to it. The lane had a tiny shrine at its entrance that could possibly have been built just to deter the authorities from expanding into the lane. This narrow lane housed about 4 houses on either side in about 22 metres. The lane seemed to be opening directly into the nala with no safeguards. We later found out that the wall they had built at end got washed away when storm water flooded into the lane. The entire settlement is lower than the road level making it particularly susceptible to flooding.
Our first house was a house located at the edge of the nala, this was a G + 1 residence on a footprint of 18sq.mt. The house seemed to be more recently built and was lifted off the lane level to avoid storm water from entering into the house during floods.
The house was built by two brothers with each occupying one floor and housing a family of 4 each. We can notice the limits to ergonomics in the design of these houses as they seemed to have really squeezed in as much utility into the space as they could with their 60cm wide toilets (that seemed to fit not more than one Indian style pan and pretty much no more space) and the 40cm wide stairs to the upper level. Even the railing to the staircase, which was cantilevered over the nala was not more than about 80cm. We inspected the ground floor and noticed that they have the pretty much everything one could expect from such a modest lifestyle - a basic CRT TV, a single door fridge, an almirah, a cot and overcrowded kitchen. One of the things that we noticed was how natural the tenants were with the idea of simply dumping their waste into the adjoining nala. As tiny as this house feels this was the bigger of the one in this cluster.
venkatamma home :
Our second house was the one situated right opposite to our first one. This was a tin shed divided into three units where the tenants each paid about INR 2,500 as rent for living there. There was only one room, which housed the kitchen, cot everything. The three units combined had access to one bathroom and one toilet located at the edge of the nala.
Both the above houses situated almost at the edge of the nala seemed to be concerned about the nala not having a parapet wall. Both it doesn’t seem to be that they've made efforts to correct the problem either. They seem to be waiting for the authorities to come in and help them with this.
Walking along these roads we stumbled across a particularly tiny home with a man in his early fifties resting in an armchair. Mr.Somayya lives here with his wife and 2 children. His wife working as a 'social worker', he told us repeatedly, and his children both educated with one completing his MBA. The house was a tiny house with the bath just before the entrance. Mr.Somayya too seemed to be concerned with the nala albeit with a different concern. The retaining wall separating the nala and the residential bank had collapsed during the last rains and he was concerned that the next rains when the nala would flood would be when the rains could wash off this modest dwelling.
lakshmi's home :
A small distance from Mr.Somayya's residence was where we had come across our fourth house. This was an interesting residence as the house was split into two parts, the front where there was a little open space, they had a small space to run an clothes ironing business. The rear of the house was again divided into two rooms - one kitchen and one bedroom. If Mr.Somayya was concerned, this family was paranoid about the retaining wall. Soil erosion below the home does put them at a real risk, and they insisted that repeated requests to the authorities have yielded no results so far.