• Looking beyond the visible: contesting environmental agendas for Mumbai slums

      Abbott, Dina; Department of Development Geography, University of Derby (Oxford University Press, 2009)
      Slums are the most immediate, visible symbols of poverty and environmental degra-dation intertwined in cities. They are a constant reminder of national shame and the state’s incapacity or political will to tackle poverty. In cities where the poor and rich share spaces, the rich will attempt to mentally and morally distance themselves from the slums, often regarding these as eyesores, health hazards, and dens of corruption and immoral behaviour. Yet slums are home to millions, from single householders to intergenerational extended families. Within each slum locality, there is intense social networking to safe¬guard common interest, provide informal services for neighbours and enhance the ability to carry out livelihood opportunities. There is a clear contrast in the way slums are regarded by ‘outsiders’, and those who actually live there. Equally there is a difference in which both outsiders and slum dwellers understand environmental needs. A key question for this chapter is, therefore, what is the contested nature of environ-mental agendas in urban areas and who or what defines it? This chapter draws on Mumbai as an example to argue that within shared spaces, whilst there may be commonality of environmental interests, environmental agendas are often shaped by those who are more powerful and vocal.