Neglected by state, battered by Cyclone Tauktae: The tragedy of Mumbai’s Kurar slum

For 20 years, residents have begged to be moved to safer ground.

ByTanishka Sodhi
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What does a cyclone leave in its wake? For residents of the Kurar Village slum in Mumbai, it is battered homes, fallen trees, anger and fear.

Cyclone Tauktae skirted Mumbai between May 16 and 17, becoming the first severe cyclone in 40 years to do so. While the city’s civic body temporarily shifted some residents to low-lying areas before the storm, Kurar Village, located on elevated land that makes it prone to flooding, was left to weather the cyclone on its own.

Kurar Village in Malad East is one of Mumbai’s biggest slum pockets. Yet, it remains severely neglected. The 13,000 families in the area’s Ambedkarnagar and Pimpripada have been waiting to be rehabilitated for more than two decades. Now, they are struggling to recover from the rains and strong winds that wrecked their homes.

Cyclone Tauktae tore apart their makeshift homes, but local bodies have still not reached out to residents or offered any compensation or aid. Several residents told Newslaundry that the cyclone brought down their roofs, left their houses flooded, and forced them to stay awake through the night until the rains stopped.

But such destruction and apathy comes as no surprise to the residents of the slum. In fact, it’s a yearly occurrence whenever Mumbai receives heavy rains. In 2019, at least 29 people died when a wall collapsed in the slum after heavy rains.

In 1997, the Bombay High Court directed that the slum’s residents, who live on forest land, be rehabilitated but 20 years later, they’re still waiting.

Bilal Khan, a housing rights activist with Ghar Bachao Ghar Bano, said authorities have turned a blind eye to those living in Kurar Village. “Despite living there for years, they don’t have permanent houses and have to make do with makeshift houses made of plastic,” he said. “Because their homes are so weak, in a cyclone-like situation, they are easily damaged. They don’t even have electricity or water supply.”

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