Q&A: 'Slum-dwellers are the backbone of labour force'
Sep 26, 2006

Ruzbeh N Bharucha wears several hats. Once a journalist, he is now a documentary film-maker and writer. His latest book, Yamuna Gently Weeps, chronicles Delhi's Pushta slum demolitions. Avijit Ghosh speaks to Bharucha about the dark side of urbanisation:

Your book claims that about 150,000 people from 40,000 families lived on the banks of Yamuna? What has happened to them?
In the guise of resettlement, encroachment, pollution and beautification of the city, in early 2004, in a matter of weeks, 40,000 homes were demolished, without any rehabilitation plan. Barely 20 per cent of those displaced were allotted plots, on a barren piece of land in Bawana, 40 km away from the city. 

The remaining 80 per cent were forced to take refuge on the streets along with their salvaged belongings, until they found some way out of their miserable plight. Remember, you demolish one slum, you create 10 smaller slums as the displaced don't go back to their villages. They have nothing to go back to.

Several families living in these slums were Bangladeshis. What is your view on this?
My focus is on the plight of forced migration and not on issues of immigration. For me, the plight of a poor family or hungry children is universal. I am not interested in where they come from but where they are being forced to go.








Copyright 2014 Ruzbeh N. Bharucha.