The headlines last week read “Bombay Landslide Toll Rises.” What the news wire services described as a landslide, activists in India are calling a human-environmental disaster waiting to happen. If only 100 die this time, that will be lucky they say. Bodies are still being pulled out of the sewerage, mud and debris where the hillside slum collapsed last week in Bombay killing over 100.
Maybe this week’s disaster can be seen as the final warning that the destruction of marine mangroves and the reclamation of land from the sea cannot continue to happen in Bombay city. Nor can the hillsides and riverbanks continue to serve as slum housing for the homeless. It is not the wealthy, the middle class or even the working class who are most at risk of dying. It is the very poor who are going to go first; the men, women and children who live in the slums on the ocean banks and the hillsides. In Bombay, these people make up over 60% of the population.
- Deepa Fernandes, a reporter who was in Bombay, India earlier this year. She met with elected representatives, activists and women who live in the slums who were all working around the issues behind the dangerous growth of these slum dwellings.