Mumbai: In a bid to find answers for affordable housing, a seminar by architects Rahul Mehrotra, Kaiwan Mehta and poet and art curator Ranjit Hoskote focussed on the different models possible, and alternatives to the city’s Slum Rehabilitation Authority (SRA) schemes.

In February last year, the trio had held State of Architecture, an exhibition which questioned the State government’s role as a patron of architecture and the architect’s role in contemporary society. The seminar on Friday at the Max Mueller Bhavan was a continuation of the same theme, and discussed what constitutes adequate housing in India, who decides parameters and processes by which housing is delivered to those who need it most.

At the seminar, Pankaj Joshi, Executive Director, Urban Design Research Institute (UDRI), said shortcomings in the SRA scheme mean at the current rate, over 260 years will be required to house the city’s slum dwellers. He said the alternatives should involve the slum dweller, and should be scalable. “Going by the trends over the past 25 years, the simplest thing would be to give the tenure of the land to the slum dwellers on long-term (35 years) and short-term (15 years) leases. The government will handle only infrastructure and public amenities requirements, and the house itself would be handled by the residents with funds procured through financial institutions.”


“The state of housing in Mumbai today is ‘too little too late’,” said Sheela Patel, founding director, Society for the Promotion of Area Resource Centres (SPARC), an advocacy group for pavement dwellers. “Poor people have long been appendages to the city’s growth, and the housing situation is going to get worse, as will inequity.”

Architects Ashok Lall, Sameep Padora, Hafeez Contractor, Nuru Karim and Prasanna Desai also presented their insights from building affordable housing. Amita Bhide, Chairperson, Centre for Urban Planning, Policy and Governance at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), spoke of the need to re-imagine how we view housing, our responsibility to the city and the importance of learning from the past.