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A Dollar A Day: Bombay Jungle
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A Dollar A Day: Bombay Jungle
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Living Service
Khurshida Bano and her family live in a slum that is being demolished by the government because of its proximity to a national park. Architect P.K. Das works with the Slum Rehabilitation Authority of Bombay to relocate the slum residents. Will they be able to navigate a bureaucratic system filled with corruption to successfully relocate people like Khurshida?
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Segment 1

TITLE
EMF Films and Global Visions & Associates present
TITLE
A Dollar A Day: Bombay Jungle
TITLE
A film by Frank Vellenga
VOICEOVER
Within the city of Bombay, or Mumbai as it is now called, a battle is waging. Like many megacities around the world, as populations grow, space becomes more and more precious. In Bombay, the battle lines are drawn between the "nobodies" and the "somebodies." Ironically, their battlefield is the border area of a vast national park, a hilly area populated by wild animals, and thousands of people who cannot afford to live elsewhere. But now, due to a political decision to reclaim the forest, lifelong squatters are being violently uprooted and forced to move. And unless they can prove they are "somebodies", they have no rights, and no access to shelter and other basic needs.
MAN 1
The people tried to stop the bulldozers. But they broke our homes. They beat a lot of people. My son also broke his leg. That's what happened.
MAN 2
On March 27th around 10:30 am the bulldozers came from up there. The people were there by the rim. People from the Congress Party had come. Both men and women had come and formed a human chain. Until about 1 pm they didn't do anything. After that, the police started to beat the people and they started bulldozing.
P.K. DAS [Architect]
What we have is the city of Mumbai, which is surrounded by sea on almost three sides of it. And you have a profile that then has creeks, and in the heart of it, actually, which is amazing because Mumbai is one such city that has a national park within it, within its boundaries. Now, what is happening is that this national park has been encroached by slums over the years. Some of them have been actually here for over fifty years. The High Court gave a ruling that the national park needs to be protected, and therefore ordered for eviction of over 80,000 families.
VOICEOVER
Even in the poorest slum areas, systems are created by dwellers to accommodate their basic needs: water, shelter, and a clean spot to relieve themselves. To be evicted from a slum is to be denied even these primal rights.
KHURSHIDA BANO
Here you can still make ends meet. Two square meals a day are what we barely make. We don't have any land back in the village. Nor do we have anything here. Just this house. We depend on this house only. We all live in this house. Where else can we go? Where will we stay? We don't have that much money. We cannot rent a house. We all live together, even with our grandchildren. Our two sons do everything and look after us.
KHURSHIDA BANO
Please, give me a bit of bread.
P.K. DAS
Sadly, the court did not consider the rehabilitation as being important. That's why housing rights organizations like ours got in the picture of demanding rehabilitation as necessarily being a condition prior to demolition. What we finally did was, we negotiated with a private owner who has a piece of land here. This happens to be an exhausted quarry. This rehabilitation is carried out under the principles of the state government. Three players are responsible. The state government contributes sanctions and other facilities of infrastructure. The private developer brings in the investment required for construction. And you have the community of the slum dwellers who are affected. These three form the alliance of the partnership for the slum's redevelopment.
RAMESH SHAH [Real Estate Developer]
Here we are going to build three towers with two apartments on each floor. This is also for upper-class people. It is a three or four bedroom apartment. Each apartment is about 200 to 260 square meters in size. The total number of people that can live here is 300 to 400 people can live here basically.
SUMER SHAH
I have to see it first. Do you understand what I'm trying to tell you?
VOICEOVER
For Ramesh and his father Sumer, the trade-off for the right to build a luxury apartment complex is to also build low-cost housing for uprooted slum dwellers.
SUMER SHAH
It is lying with you, what can I tell you? The invitation is with you, so what can I say? Yes, send it to me. My chap is sitting there, so let him take the invitation with him. Yes, send it to me at my residence.
VOICEOVER
This Bombay "jungle" is not only about the land, it is also about the bureaucratic system that has put the cart before the horse. Long before completing the low-cost housing, bulldozers began the slum demolition, further compromising already shaky living conditions.
KHURSHIDA BANO
This wall was broken at that time by those bulldozers. The house is totally unbalanced now. It can fall on us any time. This house is not stable anymore. We are staying here at a big risk. The three walls are out of balance, in the living room as well. We are at great risk. We live in fear.
KHURSHIDA BANO
Mohammed, how much did you pay for the chickens? How much did you pay?
MOHAMMED
It's 60 kilograms.
KHURSHIDA BANO
Have you worked out the calculations?
MOHAMMED
Let me sell some and we'll see.
KHURSHIDA BANO
But how will you work it out?
MOHAMMED
Let the sale happen.
KHURSHIDA BANO
Will we at least break even? We owe people money. How will we manage to get rice and flour?
MOHAMMED
We will return the money, but let's first earn and then pay back.
KHURSHIDA BANO
How will we do this? At least work out the logistics.
MOHAMMED
Let's at least make some sale. We can pay them back once we've made some money. We cannot sell at a loss, you know that.

Segment 2

SAIRA BANO
Water leaks from everywhere, it's a big problem. I keep vessels here and there. I also cover the roof with plastic, but it is of no use as water seeps in from everywhere. We have been here for a long time now. My husband passed away here. I have two children, they both work. I came here because of my aunt Khurshida, and because of the bad situation in my village. Things were bad there. So I thought why not come to Bombay. Maybe I will be somebody, my kids will have a good life. It was a very poor situation over there. That's why we left.
TITLE
Chandivali - relocation site for slum dwellers
P.K. DAS
Look at Mumbai's demography. It's a city of approximately 12 million people. Of the 12 million people approximately 60 percent, that's about 7 to 7.5 million people, live in slums. They constitute the majority of the city's population. Unfortunately, due to lack of planning, we have not provided adequate land for housing of the urban poor.
RAMESH SHAH
The level is up here. This is seventy-two. This is fifty-nine. The difference is one to one and a half meters.
P.K. DAS
The idea of clusters, that's what we are working on. In clusters people will live as communities, or as groups together, the way they're used to living in their present areas. Apart from the clusters, we also have little neighborhoods with their own open spaces. Multiple open spaces form the main idea of this plan.
UJJWAL UKE [CEO, Slum Rehabilitation Authority]
Suppose a railway, a road, or any vital public project has to be built. In such a situation the slum dwellers have to be shifted from that spot to another spot. Here we are having a situation where a whole complex is coming up with various facilities all earmarked for the people of the Sanjay Ghandi National Park. The land is needed by the Forest Department, because encroachments in the forest have to be removed. Instead of keeping them homeless, since these people have been staying here since first January 1995, it is the duty of the government to give them alternative accommodation, as per law.
P.K. DAS
Let's say this is a slum pocket, filled up with slums. The policy says that the builder, who comes in and re-houses the slum dwellers into a part of this land, provides housing to them. The balance land that is available is then developed and sold in the open market. The profits provide housing for the slum dwellers. This is the logic, the principle.
UJJWAL UKE
For a period of time the city does need the watchmen, it needs the postmen, the paper deliverymen, the taxi driver. These people can't afford housing of 600 rupees and above. They need houses of a smaller size.
RAMESH SHAH
In 1990 we started this project. The last two are the end of number one and two Sumer Tower. Then we started with number three and four, and this is number five. I am going to build there also; we've already built Wimlachal Tower. On the next road we are building an identical tower, 22 floors high.
TITLE
High Court
VOICEOVER
In order for slum dwellers to be eligible for relocation, there’s a catch -- they have to prove that they’ve lived in the slum since 1995. And in order to prove that, they must verify their identity through official paperwork. The many who cannot produce documentation that proves their status as "somebodies" are caught in a desperate conundrum. Lawyer P.A. Sebastian sees the glaring flaw in a system that defeats the very citizens it relies upon to serve the privileged, and is passionate about helping them get access to their basic needs and fundamental rights as Indians.
P.A. SEBASTIAN [Lawyer]
There's a system that generates slums. The people who stay in the slums are not responsible for that. The people who denounce them as criminals, trespassers, they are responsible. Their system has generated the slums, because it suits them. It gives them cheap labor and luxury. On 2000 rupees, no person can live in a place of his own which he legally possesses or owns. You can't do that. He has to live. You can demolish their houses because they are illegal. But you can't deport them. If you deport them, if you throw them out of the city, then there is no India. India ceases to exist.
KHURSHIDA BANO
We did have electricity every now and then, but we do not have a meter here. Sometimes the electricity was given to us directly by the meter people. Then the forest wallahs cut the electricity lines. Now, we haven't had electricity here for three months. Not only in this house. The whole of Krantinagar is without electricity. The Forest people say, "Don't give them water and electricity." Because they are afraid that, once given to these people, they will not move from here anymore.
VOICEOVER
By denying people shelter, water and electricity, authorities are actually denying their existence. The responsibility is on each individual to prove his or her identity.
SAIRA BANO
I have to go to that meeting, but I don't have proof of any kind.
KHURSHIDA BANO
Of course you should go there.
SAIRA BANO
But how?
KHURSHIDA BANO
You will not achieve anything sitting at home.
SAIRA BANO
That's true.
KHURSHIDA BANO
You need a voting card. Otherwise nothing will happen. You have two kids. You really should go there. Now you don't have a ration card and you are not registered.
SAIRA BANO
But no one ever told me anything. I have no idea what to do.
KHURSHIDA BANO
You should go there. Otherwise nothing will happen.
SAIRA BANO
But who will listen to me?
KHURSHIDA BANO
Sitting at home, nobody will give you a house. Nobody is going to say, "Here is a house." You have to make an effort.
VOICEOVER
People who have lost their papers, like Saira, feel so disenfranchised that the extra efforts that have to be made seem overwhelming.

Segment 3

P.A. SEBASTIAN
They always complain. Residents have no place to walk on the sidewalk because trespassers, illegal occupants, occupy it. They say that the people in the slums pollute the air, and citizens can't breath good air, fresh air, clean air. Which means: They are citizens and residents, but the people in the slums are not citizens and residents. In the last three months not much progress has been made, but in Chandivali houses are being built. How many houses are being built there?
MAN
Around 16,000 houses is the target. Of which 8,000 will be allocated as soon as possible.
KHURSHIDA BANO
They have taken the money from us, by fooling us.
P.A. SEBASTIAN
You can say this in court: That it is has been three months now, and there is still no water or electricity.
KHURSHIDA BANO
I don't think the court will listen to us. The city just couldn't give us water and electricity. After we paid them, they came to threaten us.
MAN
They think that you will refuse to move out when they give you water and electricity.
KHURSHIDA BANO
How can we move away from here when we have nowhere to go?
VOICEOVER
P.A. Sebastian encourages his clients to keep fighting for their rights and to be sure their papers are in order. Khurshida and Saira heed his advice by checking their status at the Rehousing Registration Office.
TITLE
Rehousing Registration Office
KHURSHIDA BANO
These are my papers.
MAN
Your number is 715.
KHURSHIDA BANO
That's right.
MAN
Where is your voting number?
KHURSHIDA BANO
The voting list is here. There is one from 1990 and one from 1992.
MAN
And 1995?
KHURSHIDA BANO
We voted then, but we don't have a receipt of that.
MAN
Where is the 1995's voting receipt?
KHURSHIDA BANO
I think this is 1990.
MAN
There is a verdict by the judge. They will check whether you're on 1995's list as well. You have 1990, but do you have 1995's voting number?
KHURSHIDA BANO
We have made an application for that.
SAIRA BANO
My house was demolished, but I rebuilt it. I still live there.
MAN
Have you paid money?
SAIRA BANO
Money?
MAN
To the Forestry people?
SAIRA BANO
No.
MAN
But you have a number?
SAIRA BANO
My papers are --
MAN
Did they put a number on your house? Even though bulldozers ruined it, you had to remember the number. The Forest guys gave a number to every house. That is, put it in their register. This authorizes a person to a house.
KHURSHIDA BANO
During the tear down of our homes, there were a lot of police that beat us. They broke all the pots and pans into little pieces.
MAN
This is forest land. You don't have any rights. The court decided: 1995.
KHURSHIDA BANO
But they did not even listen to the court. They just started bulldozing. People have died. When Shabana came, they stopped. Thanks to the support we got, we are still here.
MAN
Listen to what I have to say: I don't want anything from you. When your house is demolished, we will give you a new accommodation. We do it in a different way than the people of the Forestry Department. The Forestry people collected 7,000 rupees and filled their pockets. Their attitude is, "Just drop dead."
KHURSHIDA BANO
I will look for them. I need those papers to take care of everything. Here they are. These papers need to be laminated. Will you keep an eye on the place?

Segment 4

KHURSHIDA BANO
I would like to have these two documents laminated. How much will it cost?
MAN
Twenty rupees.
KHURSHIDA BANO
When can I get them back?
MAN
In fifteen minutes. You really have to take care of these papers.
KHURSHIDA BANO
Yes, that's why I'm having them laminated.
P.K. DAS
We opposed forced evictions. We demanded that a viable or an acceptable rehabilitation scheme must precede eviction. People have not merely come here to just get a house. They have come to work in the city and earn their living, which they can't earn back in their villages. So it's a question of livelihood. They can't be displaced from their income. It is a basic human right.
SIGN
Slum Rehabilitation Authority - Reception
UJJAWAL UKE
The Chief Secretary has given an affidavit in the High Court, and I will also be making an affidavit. Next week we meet and we take a final decision on this matter, because I don't think I can afford any further delays on this project.
P.K. DAS
But Mr. Uke, this is a very unique example and -- one second. Let's discuss a few larger issues. This is a very unique project. It is a very interesting tripartite. This is going to be a model example for slum rehabilitation, at the same time, clearing up an area of the national park, which needs to be protected.
UJJWAL UKE
In the past we've always had the SRA and the developer, the SRA and the NGO. This is the first time the three of us have come together for the benefit of the citizens of this city.
VOICEOVER
While striving to reach their common goal in this unique joint project, tensions arise as each representative protects his organizational interests. Meanwhile, the community continues to wait for decisions to be made.
MOHAMMED
250 grams costs you twenty rupees.
MAN
Give him five rupees. Are you happy now?
VOICEOVER
As project delays continue, the slums also continue to expand, reaching deeper into the national forest and clashing with its wild inhabitants.
SIGN
Wild animals in forests dislike sound of mobiles. Please switch off your mobile
ASHOK KHOT [Ministry of Forestry]
By the end of March we have to remove them. Before that we removed already 20,000 encroachments. All these 60,000 people, when they encroached, along with them the dogs came, the chickens came. Then sheep, goats, then cows, buffalo, all these animals came. Leopards, like any animal, if they can get an easy prey, and for leopards the dog is one of the easiest preys. There were a number of dogs in the area where the attacks were taking place. About fourteen incidents of leopard attacks have taken place, in June. A lot of these attacks were taking place only in a remote place and late at night. I don't think anyone should enter in the forest. In another case, an early morning walker, he went into the deep forest at three o'clock in the morning. He was trying to do yoga. That is not a place to do yoga. Unfortunately he was killed while sitting there. This leopard doesn't attack a large animal, or a man who's walking. If a person is sitting, or if a small child is there, then he doesn't see the difference between a human being and an animal. He wants his prey, so it attacks. It is not the leopard's fault. It is the human being that is encroaching. The men, they're at fault.
KHURSHIDA BANO
We are the residents of India. We have a right to be here. Everywhere in India, in Maharashtra, Delhi, Calcutta. Since we are born in India, we have every right to stay anywhere freely. Who are these people from the Forest Department to tell us to leave? Is it the property of the people from the Forest Department by birth? Indira Gandhi said India belongs to us all. We made her Prime Minister. She said that the whole of India is ours. Who are these Forest Department people to say that this land belongs to them? Has God decided that?
WOMAN 1
They release tigers.
KHURSHIDA BANO
And now our children suffer.
WOMAN 2
These tigers are not from a circus. The Forestry people release them. There are a lot of tigers there. One tiger is enough to frighten people. They deliberately starve the tiger to death, so that it will attack.
MAN
We all come from Krantinagar. Our neighborhood has been destroyed. This new housing project is taken shape under supervision of the Nivara Association. These clusters are numbered from one to six. A cluster consists of 16 buildings. On each floor there are seven apartments. The work starts early in the morning. Bamboo scaffolds are there for plastering that starts tomorrow. This means that 80 percent of the work is completed. Please, follow me.
VOICEOVER
Ramesh pushes to complete the luxury towers. He is doubly invested in finishing them, since he and his father will profit greatly from them and will also live there themselves.
RAMESH SHAH
This is going to be my living room, and this is going to be my dining. For formal occasions. This is going to be a guest room. This is going to be a regular dining room. A regular dining room for every day. This is going to be for every day and formal dinners over there. The view is excellent. From the Oberoi Hotel to Narriman Point you can see the buildings. I am going to stay here myself also. Nowadays I am staying with my parents. After all, my father is the owner of the house. So, I am going to stay with him. He is not going to stay with me.

Segment 5

VOICEOVER
While Ramesh makes the luxury building construction his priority, Khurshida and her community must wait, and wait, and wait.
KHURSHIDA BANO
Sonu, please get me some milk and tea.
KHURSHIDA BANO
They gave us false hope. They keep on saying we're getting a house soon, but we've been waiting five years. How much longer? We should be informed, for the sake of the future of our children. How much longer will it take? Today they say this, the next day something different. I really don't understand it anymore. I might go crazy here.
MAN
The mafia and the police are in it together. Both knew precisely to whom this land belonged. Listen to me. Whose place is this? The police. Why would a cop want to sell this place? The mafia and the police let us build our home after taking a bribe from us. I'm telling you the truth.
SAIRA BANO
We stay until we are being kicked out. When they start to demolish, we will see. Until then we will stay and live here. I don't have any other place to go anyway.
SIGN
Slum Rehabilitation Authority, Fifth floor
UJJWAL UKE
This is a joint scheme between the NGO, the developer, and the slum dwellers. You can say this is an agreement between us and the developer. Certain payments have to be made; on behalf of the developer, we are making these payments. We'll receive the check. But you have to pay this gentleman. There he is.
P.K. DAS
Speaking about the devil.
UJJWAL UKE
Come in. We were talking about certain things, which was short. Keep it off the record, please. While in this transition, we were talking about certain things, which I'm not officially supposed to tell.
RAMESH SHAH
Mr. Das, this project we started in 2003. You know you too have to pay money sometimes. Why are you taking so much time? Because of this, the project is delayed.
P.K. DAS
I'm sorry Ramesh; this decision to delay the project has arbitrarily been taken by you. Let me complete. I'm sorry to intervene.
RAMESH SHAH
One second. We are talking about money from March and from January.
P.K. DAS
I've got your point. You have arbitrarily decided to delay the project. This project is not singularly yours. This is a State Government approved scheme in the larger public interest, for the social priority of clearing the National Park and to start rehabilitation.
RAMESH SHAH
You are saying, I am a developer. So what's that question about misleading?
P.K. DAS
One second. The contribution that the slum dwellers are going to make is not for the total value of the project. It is less than about 10 percent of the total value of the project.
UJJWAL UKE
My only concern is, we have to go on with the project, it has to be completed.
P.K. DAS
We have come to an understanding.
UJJWAL UKE
You have to narrow down the differences.
RAMESH SHAH
And you pay! That's all. That's my only request.
UJJWAL UKE
I believe that now, that you've narrowed down your differences.
RAMESH SHAH
From their account, already, from my pocket, I have paid.
UJJWAL UKE
I would not like to go into whatever your accounting differences are. My only request and desire is that you narrow down the differences and come down to a level by which you can see eye to eye, and start the project in earnest.
VOICEOVER
Of course, all of this infighting eventually lands on those waiting to be relocated, year after year.
RAMESH SHAH
That's not the issue. Okay, okay. I'll get back to you by the evening.
VOICEOVER
Although Saira has not yet been able to qualify for relocation, she still has hopes that she can come through, for the sake of her children.
SAIRA BANO
Our dream is to get a house, so we could all live there. My children are afraid that their mother will die just like their father. Once I can get my two children to marry, I can die peacefully.
RAMESH SHAH
For slum people this location is too expensive. People are squatting here on the sidewalks. In principle, it is very costly to live here. Today the squatters are not paying anything for maintenance, for electricity. They are not paying any water taxes. They will have to start paying the water taxes and the electricity and all. Today they are getting it all for free.
VOICEOVER
Expressing an attitude that is felt throughout the world, Ramesh represents the "haves," who simply don’t want to see those "have-nots." Not in their neighborhoods, not in development deals, nor anywhere in their community, except when they are needed to perform a service. But even if Saira’s dream is invisible, she is not. Nor are the basic needs of millions like her, regardless of their official status.
KHURSHIDA BANO
Come, I'll show you the apartment that they're going to give me. I've seen it once already. It's in here. It's from here on. You can go in here. Come along, we're going inside.
SAIRA BANO
Is there no door?
KHURSHIDA BANO
This is the living room and this is the kitchen. This is the toilet.
SAIRA BANO
But the toilet in the kitchen? Isn't that unhygienic?
KHURSHIDA BANO
There will be an extra door. And there's a tap and all.
SAIRA BANO
Two doors?
KHURSHIDA BANO
Here you can open the doors and air it out.
VOICEOVER
While Khurshida has a chance to step out of poverty, Saira’s future remains in question. When her home is bulldozed, where will she go? Without an official identity, the system that needs her labor denies her existence. She has no rights -- not to shelter, water, or electricity. Certainly not to her dream.