Mumbai Diary

Underneath the Flyover – A flawed public policy

Underneath the flyover,

in the ‘posher’ part of my city,

where the roads are always busy,

I spied this family squatting

in one of the most expensive real estate

and living for FREE.


I wondered at this inequality – aren’t I a citizen of this country too?

Why can’t I squat and dirty the city as I please?

Why do I have to pay my taxes and get nothing in return?

Why do we, the ordinary citizens, have to suffer the repercussions of a flawed public policy?

We need justice too!

While I definitely have empathy for the poor, I am amazed at how hard-working, tax paying citizens of this country are penalised and marginalised by the self seeking politicians who do nothing for us at all.

Trapped between the filthy rich (who don’t have to walk on the roads every day) and the filthy poor (who use the streets as private property), we, the regular citizens of Mumbai have to pay through our noses to buy property here (the rate is per and work our butts off to maintain it. Isn’t it a shame that we don’t have a clean pavement to walk on; we don’t have the right to squat; we don’t have smooth roads to drive on? And worse still, no one to appeal to for justice?

Just 5 metres away from where the squatters live is a public toilet (made with taxpayer money )but they still crap on the road. Why are only we punished for littering the streets?

We get water just once a day. These people steal water from the taps in the gardens round the traffic lights ( made and maintained by taxpayer money). Why can’t we steal water too?

Moreover, this is a busy intersection where cars, buses, trucks and two wheelers make a dash before the lights change, making it dangerous for the little ones to be crawling about. Why can’t we add to the traffic chaos too by not observing traffic lights or disregarding the police?

A flawed public policy

The government of the past  has encouraged and pampered poverty just for getting votes and has aggravated the problem of rural unemployment with the ridiculous scheme of NREGA. Despite parting with half the money with the person who is disbursing it, a NREGA beneficiary has enough to get by. This assurance has made it difficult to get rural labour to even work on the farms!

In my opinion, poverty cannot be eradicated with handouts.  People need employment. They need infrastructure that WORKS : electricity, running water, public health care, education, good roads and sanitation too.

All of us are citizens of India – the rich and the poor alike so if they can squat on the streets why can’t we? Why do they have the right to dirty streets we can’t even use? Why do they have the right to squat and live for free while we can’t buy rural land unless we are registered farmers?

It is time these politicians who spout platitudes and policy makers who decide policy, open up their spacious homes to squatters on the streets, get down from their government cars and experience for themselves what they don’t even see through their darkened windows as they whizz by in police escorted cavalcades.

And finally, are the squatters really happy to live in sub human conditions?

Shame on the previous governments who encouraged this kind of existence and shame on them who try to obstruct those who are trying to make things better .


Author: Unishta

A granny who always sees the humour in life and tries to do things differently. When others make cupcakes, this granny makes banana fritters. When she’s not busy chasing her grandchildren who love making her run around, she indulges in her passions of reading, writing, meeting friends and watching movies. And somewhere between all this she enjoys travelling and cooking!


  1. Oh the Congress – they are the reason why India is in the sorry state it is. I feel that the current government is working on it, but it will take a lot more than 5 years to repair the damage. And of-course, like any other party, BJP too has its share of corrupt, self-serving politicians, which will slow the speed of progress. But at-least with BJP, I have hope. With Congress, it is only a downward spiral.

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