Lallubhai Compound, Mumbai's own projects

Lallubhai Compund © Oxfam

The sixteen building central cluster at Lallubhai Compound in Mankhurd rises ominously, each building separated from the other by a space that could park only a single car. Dominos in a hellish mass of concrete, only 4 buildings have access to direct sunlight on one side each. [ON GOOGLE MAPS] Housed in these rows of buildings are slum dwellers from all over Mumbai City. Welcome to Mumbai's slum resettlement housing projects.

No one moves to Lallubhai compound because they choose to, they move forced in the name of "slum rehabilitation". Their homes have been demolished under the claw of a bulldozer. A visit to Mankhurd teaches you rehabilitation means for very little here and all you will find is a concrete slum - one of far more dangerous social ramifications.

Here is what I saw.

Lallubhai Compund © Oxfam

Lallubhai Compund © Oxfam

Four kilometers from the nearest station - though in close proximity to one of Mumbai's only operating open garbage dump, an abattoir and surrounded by a slum supposedly three times the size of Dharavi - Lallubhai compound looks like a case study for "ghetto-ization". Bombay's urban poor have been swept under the carpet where no one will see them.

Lallubhai Compound, Water Chores
[ Seven stories high - the buildings have no running water or sanitation. Twelve year-old Avani on the seventh floor pulls up water in tiny plastic cans - that being her only source of water.]

Lallubhai Compund © Oxfam
[225 sq foot windowless cells are alloted to each of the families. The families sometimes as large as 6 individual calls this their home.]

Lallubhai Compund © Oxfam
[ Those whole lived near the railway stations of Kurla terminus,
Chembur and Matunga; those who once had dwellings along the pavements of the
famous P. D'Mello road near VT station; people from Byculla, Dadar, Parel,
you name it – they are all housed here. Moved away far away from original place or residence and work unemployment swells at the compound adding to the despair.]

Lallubhai Compund © Oxfam

Lallubhai Compund © Oxfam

A boy, aged 15, swaggers past the curtain, whipping his knuckles clean of elbow grease. His face burned red with a teenage defiance that only burned brighter in his straddling walk. The two hundred and twenty five square foot room on the ground floor of the C Block in Lalubhai compound is filled with 7 cupboard sized video game machines each laminated in now worn out red plywood. He jostled through the crowd of mostly other teenage boys, pushing and pulling in a show of assertiveness. For those who didn't move he shouted out crude sentences in Marathi that ended with profanities chewed up and spat out just like the red gutka, which stained the walls that lined the stifling room. The only light in the windowless room was the flickering neon reflections of video games screens put to motion the jumbled sound of rap music, car crashes, gun shots, shouting and more profanity. The boy toggled at the joystick taking control of his character in the video game and watched on with glee. The 3D figure on the screen then took out what looked like an Uzi and shot at a bunch of people and then proceeded to steal a car and drive away only to be chased by cops. One rupee got you 60 seconds of game play and many coins were exchanged for more violence on screen.

On being asked whether he went to school he told me that he did sometimes but it was far and he couldn't go most times because his father did not have a regular income anymore. On being asked what he would do when he grew up, he pointed to the screen, laughed and said, "Boss, Don banna itna ahsaan hai." [Becoming an Don is easy]

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Anonymous said...

These pictures are all wonderful ... Very good. Congratulations.

b said...

man. rehabilitation. that's a funny word. sounds like they're worse off now.

Anonymous said...

great shots

islas bellas by ms cute pants said...

As always you give a behind the scenes look of what would normally be considered a positive rehabilitation. Unfortunate that many have no running water or sanitation facilities. You can't just take them off the streets and pack them into buildings, without any facilities. If the government wants to sweep them off the streets, which I can understand, they have to go the distance and provide them with basic amenities. What are they thinking???

Wonderful visuals, by the way.

Anonymous said...

Gr8 visuals.. what i heard of last was that these guys would take up these rehab cells .. and then rent that out make money there and get back to another slum else where .. true?!

priya mano said...

Really really candid shots! I used to frequent dharavi a lot in 2003/2004 working with kaarigars, but this is a differnet world! Is it totally residential? Or do they have small businesses out of their homes? I would love to hear more!

Wil Robinson said...

I volunteer twice a week with Akanksha - one of their classrooms at Lallubhai, working with kids 11-15 yrs old.

There is a train station closer - Mankhurd station is a quick 5-7 minute walk (along the tracks). But they seem to be isolated from schools, jobs, etc. Many of my students were moved from downtown, and were forced out of their (slightly better) schools.

Also - they have to go to a neighboring well for water - and have to wait in line for the other neighborhood people to get their water first (since they have claim on the well). It results in frequent fights, and frustration, not to mention the time it takes to fetch a few buckets of water (and then haul it up 7 flights of stairs).

Abhishek Parab said...

Very, very touching..

India Unlimited said...

Are these residents allowed to live here for free?
How can they not have windows? I am hoping that there is a tiny ventilation hole in each cubicle(that is what i choose to call these dwellings after looking at those pictures) !
truly, with such desperate situations, don banna kitna aasaaan hai nah?
It saddens me.truly. Scares me all the more.
I had been meaning to ask, do you take these pictures as part of a work project or do you do them just on your own?
P.S. I added myself as a follower of your blog, so ,your blog link appears on my profile page now..Hope that is okay?

ramses said...

you click beautiful pictures and more so with your words. ever thought of writing a novel? i want to read more.