Pipe Politics, Contested Waters: Embedded Infrastructures of Millennial Mumbai
“It Was Like That from the Beginning”: Becoming a Slum
The market in development rights—what Mumbai’s water engineers disdainfully refer to as “the slum and building industry”—is tied up with the historically layered and materially inscribed political landscapes within which the city’s working classes have made claims to urban land and resources. The chapter follows the material, ideological, and legal transformation of a municipal housing colony, Shivajinagar-Bainganwadi, into a slum that could be surveyed for redevelopment. The reimagining of Shivajinagar-Bainganwadi as a slum was itself the result of the politically mediated deterioration and criminalization of its water infrastructure in the context of liberalization-era policy shifts, which position the unplanned, illegal and informal slum as the self-evident conceptual counterpoint to the planned, formal, world-class city. Shivajinagar-Bainganwadi’s story reveals the deeply political and highly unstable nature of the world-class/slum binary and demonstrates the shifting political and economic stakes imbued in these categories.