The 2014-34 plan has unmistakably been influenced by the “Open Mumbai”exhibition that was held at the National Gallery of Modern Art in Mumbai in 2012. Open Mumbai is a project that seeks to focus the attention of policymakers and citizens on the opportunities and constraints of Mumbai to urbanise further, keeping in mind the concerns of slum dwellers as well as environmental sustainability of the city.
In particular it has a focus on open spaces in the city that may be lost due to rapid urbanisation, particularly through ever growing slums and commercial development. Open Mumbai is a result of over 15 years of activism and civil society to government collaboration led by the Mumbai-based architect PK Das.
Through his work, Das seeks to organise slum dwellers and support them in achieving betterliving conditions. In particularly he is involved in developing affordable housing models and urban renewal. He states on his website: “With an extremely strong emphasis on participatory planning, [I hope] to integrate architecture and democracy to bring about desired social and physical regeneration in the country.”
One of the key aspects of Open Mumbai is that it has made the slums of Mumbai visible. It has produced a number of maps that with much detail identify slum areas in Mumbai. In doing so, Open Mumbai has been able to clearly point out the living conditions of the urban poor: it concludes that more than 50% of Mumbai’s population, close to 6.5 million people (as per the 2011 census) live in slums.
Open Mumbai estimates that slums take up close to 9% of land in Mumbai, whilst the total land area reserved for housing in Mumbai is about 21%. Less than half of Mumbai’s slums are built on land reserved for housing (taking up a mere 20% of this land), the other half of its slums is built on commercial and industrial land, on natural assets, on public open spaces, on railways, the airport, ports and so on.
The inclusion of slum clusters on the 2014-34 Mumbai Development Plan may very well be the biggest achievement of the various individuals involved in Open Mumbai. After 15 years of activism, the JNNURM finally provided a background for sustained discussion on the problem of slums and informal housing in the city. The Mumbai Slum Maps in their turn provided the MCMG with a wealth of information for developing and implementing policies.