The Bartlett Development Planning Unit


DPU Working Paper - No. 109

A Journey Towards Citizenship: The Byculla Area Resource Centre, Mumbai


25 July 2000

Author: Sundar Burra

Publication Date: 2000

In the early 1980s the founding members of the Society for Promotion of Area Resource Centres (SPARC) used to work in a traditional welfare-oriented agency in Nagpada, a locality in an area known as Byculla in Central Mumbai.

This agency provided a wide spectrum of services to the neighbourhood such as sports and recreation, day care for children, sponsorship for poor children and assistance in health and family welfare. It was through some of these activities that the founder members of SPARC began interacting with pavement dwellers, whose houses physically surrounded the building but did not really use many of its services.

These particular pavement dwellers were migrants who had come into the city in the 1970s. As this group of professionally qualified persons developed their relationship with the women of these pavement families, they began providing them health, educational and recreational facilities. But they became increasingly dissatisfied with the nature of their interventions because, however well thought out they were, they seemed a wholly inadequate response to the circumstances of pavement families.

The prime reality faced by pavement families was the repeated and regular demolitions of their homes by the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai. But the interventions of the agency did not address this fundamental issue in part because its mandate was not to confront the State and face its wrath.

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