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Community Participation in Slum Rehabilitation in Mumbai, India
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1  University of Mumbai


The Mumbai Development Plan 2034 raises several questions about citizens’ rights to the city and their involvement in the decision-making process.

Housing shortage in Mumbai, the capital of the state of Maharashtra, India is a well-documented and much researched topic. More than half the city’s population including the poor as well as the lower middle classes are forced to find shelter in slums. Successive governments have tried various policies to address this issue with limited success.

The current policy, dating from 1995 and in keeping with the neoliberal policy environment, gives an important role to the free market in slum rehabilitation schemes. Paradoxically, while this policy requires increased support from civil society and NGOs to work and while the corresponding legislation calls for ‘obligatory participation’ of the slum-dwellers, it has come under criticism for being more oriented towards the demands of the market. Not only has the number of people benefiting from the policy been low, but also the quality and nature of the housing provided have resulted in recidivism where beneficiaries are either forced to the outskirts of the city or back into slums.

It thus becomes necessary to examine the role that communities play in this paradigm. The paper will look into various cases of slum rehabilitation in the city of Mumbai and investigate the actual level for community participation and the impact it has had. The paper will also look into relevant legislation and the provisions therein which allow for community participation to take place.

Finally, the paper will suggest ways to incorporate the learnings from the study into slum policies so that communities can be empowered to participate in the process of rehabilitation. The findings can further inform research into bringing about an authentic, non-token participatory urban planning process.

Keywords: Slum Rehabilitation; Community Participation; Participatory Process; Citizens' Rights; Neoliberalism