Story of Kalivihar Slum: Cuttack Relocation

by SDI Reporter

Nayana, the Mahila Milan leader is also a member of the Slum Development Association (SDA) and is well known for her work with slum dwellers. She is often approached by the authorities for conducting any survey in slums, is informed about new schemes and programs for the urban poor in Cuttack and also gives her opinion / ideas in favour of slum dwellers development. This is her report to MM monthly review. Kali Vihar is a settlement on Irrigation land situated along the riverbank with 164 families living there. Nayana’s settlement, Kali Vihar is to be relocated soon, but there is story behind it as to how they succeeded in getting houses for their community. This is a settlement where Mahila Milan has had a presence supporting the residents through various activities. Kali Vihar is located along the riverbank on a flood prone area, the city of Cuttack has tried several times to evict this settlement but were unsuccessful. Finally, they decided to relocate Kali Vihar to a place called Dhabereshwar 15 kilometres away from their present location. They will be allotted a plot size of 15X15 and given Rs  50,000 cash ( US$ 600).

The residents visited the site to find out there are no basic services in place, no transport facility, no means of communication, no livelihood options, no access roads, only water and a temporary community toilet was in place. There were no livelihood options in or around the site as most of the women currently work as house helpers. After visiting this site, Mahila Milan along with the communities and SDA members took an appointment of the collector to explain to him reasons why these communities should not be relocated there. The rationale was simple:  with no job opportunities they would be forced to come back and settle in the city. But the collector said, they would have to move. 

They then went to Cuttack Development Authority and explained the full situation, they got the same response from the CDA the rationale being “there is no other place”  they can be relocated to.  They were also informed that the Cuttack Development Authority planned relocation for 14 slums living along the coast in the Ring Road area under the Jaga Mission[1]. Nayana, said, even we are slum dwellers and have a right to live and be relocated in a well-developed place, so then why not consider our settlement along with those 14 slums? Giving it a thought, the CDA consulted with the Cuttack Municipal Commissioner who then sent their verification team to Kali Vihar to do an assessment. Later it was decided to consider Kali Vihar as well for relocation at Trishulia, 4 kms away from the current location. 

700 units of size 364 sq.ft has been constructed by the CDA at Trishulia. 7 buildings of 4 floors each having 120 flats are already complete, more are under construction. The area is well developed with schools, hospital is under construction, security has been provided, is a gated community, markets, bus stands are close by. There are private residential buildings and industrial areas where these women can get work easily as narrated by Nayana. The total cost of the units is 9,50,000 of which community contribution is 1.50,000. A down payment of 20,000 must be made by the communities, thereafter for the balance either they will be supported by the CDA to open bank accounts so that the EMI is deducted automatically for the balance amount from their bank accounts or a team from the bank will manually collect from the families once relocated. 

While 135 opted for the first one; 29 families agreed to move to Dhabereshwar. the reason for choosing the second site, was one, they would get money and secondly, they say they can accommodate bigger families if they grow incrementally making some adjustments and changes to the design of the unit. But there are consequences of this that they might lose their livelihood and will not be able to travel back to the original place to continue with their jobs because of the distance and lack of transport facility. Also, Dhabereshwar is not a well developed site with least facilities and hence gives no opportunity for them for livelihood or other activities. Nayana, has been explaining to them the benefits of shifting into ready buildings, but they are unable to change their minds. They also say, they will not be able to make the downpayment now will be able to take a loan and repay back. 

Families that agreed to move into buildings say they are in a position to pay 2000/month towards repayment as they already managed to get new jobs for themselves as laborers, cleaners, security guards for the new bus stand that is coming up. Again, this was possible because of Mahila Milan and SDA members as they were approached by the contractor and municipality to get them people to work at the bus stand. They will be paid 12,000 a month, some of them also got work as cooks in the Ahar Kendra at the bus stand. They will continue to work even post relocation. 

What should the next urgent action and follow up should be ?

  1. Informing the communities on necessary documentation required for relocation – Ration card, voter ID card etc.
  2. Supporting them in the process of forming housing cooperatives and registering them
  3. Talking to them on the post-relocation challenges
  4. Listing other relocation colonies /slums to be relocated to follow a similar pattern.

Insights and explanations 

  1. Why allowing communities to choose is critical yet has many known and unknown consequences.
  2. All cities will have such plans, and once some alternative is proposed, only strong networks can negotiate with well developed collectively created representations. 
  3. More organisation is essential, cooperatives must be formed, borrowing and lending systems have to be developed from now. 
  4. As has been seen in many other projects follow up is critical what gets developed in this project has value for the city and all other federations. 
  5. This reflects how large disaster linked large projects will produce displacements and have to be areas for interventions for community organisations.
  6. How can MM and NSDF develop proposals and protocols. 


[1] What is the JAGA mission- Odisha Liveable Habitat Mission (OHLM) -JAGA aims to transform slums into livebale habitat thus providing all necessary infrastructure and services as is provided to other sections of the society.