The High Court supported the demolition of “encroachments’’ while upholding the rehabilitation rights of those who could prove their existence in the electoral rolls before 1 January 1995, in line with the State Government slum rehabilitation scheme (SRS) for slums. Only 33,000 of the estimated 80,000 houses were deemed eligible for rehabilitation.
Between 1997-2004 violent evictions took place where more than 2 lakh people were displaced and scores were injured.
Desperate for shelter, many of those displaced fled to Nala Sopara, drawing on kinship networks already established in the area. Sapana Doshi describes the SGNP evictions as the first ‘green’ displacement in Mumbai.
Public sentiment in Mumbai largely supported the demolitions with the middle classes seeing these slums as violating the law and harming the environment. But a local builder in Nala Sopara, evocatively described the evictions as a bhookamp (earthquake) that ravaged and ruptured people’s lives.
Becoming World Class
In 2003, the business lobby, Bombay First, and McKinsey & Company teamed up to produce a vision for transforming Mumbai into a world-class city by 2013.
“In Vision Mumbai, McKinsey says the number of people living in slums should be reduced to about 10-20%. … Supporters of the (slum) demolition claim that slum-dwellers are holding back the city’s forward march” (Guardian Mar 1, 2005).
The Chief Minister of Maharashtra took this vision seriously, constituting a task force to study the McKinsey report’s proposals and make final recommendations for achieving this transition to world-class. Since then, numerous proposals for redeveloping and upgrading Mumbai have been announced and implemented. The transition to becoming world class typically involves large infrastructure and redevelopment projects that require the displacement of countless members of the poor and working classes living in informal settlements.