In Worli, in the heart of Mumbai, a massive project is underway to redevelop a century-old tenement block into a set of gleaming new towers. The towers will include thousands of new homes, shops, and gardens and playgrounds several levels above the ground.
Few contest the benefits of the redevelopment itself. Some experts, however, maintain that the specific plan that has been adopted focuses primarily on generating profits for the government. They argue that among other problems, future residents’ health will suffer because of a lack of proper light and air, and that the buildings will place an immense burden on local infrastructure.
For Common Ground, Vaishnavi Chandrashekhar traces the history of the tenement blocks from the early 20th century to the present, to examine how it is intertwined with the broader history of the city itself. “What really struck me in researching the history of the BDD tenements was how similar the concerns were a hundred years ago to those expressed today over the redevelopment of the tenements,” Chandrashekhar said. “Then too, there were concerns about liveability of the dwellings; then too there were issues around costs.”