chapter  14
Gentrification in the mill lands of Mumbai: changing spatial practices and everyday life in working-class chawls
Pages 15

Introduction A process of deindustrialisation followed by a prolonged textile mill strike lasting for two years (1982-1983) led to the eventual and gradual closure of Mumbai’s textile mills (Chandavarkar, 1994, 2009; Kidambi, 2007). Currently these areas are witnessing massive redevelopment and regeneration of the built environment. The emergence of a new landscape of service-sector firms, IT industries, creative-sector industries, shopping malls, high-end restaurants, pubs, nightclubs, fashion houses and gated communities existing cheek by jowl with long rows of working-class chawls1 has produced a landscape of contrast, contestation and aspiration (see Figure 14.1). The existence of creative spaces in the form of art galleries along with an agglomeration of small-scale industries, big and small eateries with vada pav snack stalls, and printing presses run by former textile-mill workers in the erstwhile textile mill compounds brings uniqueness to this place. The arrival of the upwardly mobile middle class (Fernandes, 2004) and the spill-over effects of bourgeois culture have deeply disturbed the older urban rhythms related to space, place, work and life in these localities for the working-class population. The gradual disappearance of the chawls from the neighbourhood and their replacement with low-cost residential high-rise towers for chawl dwellers and adjacent high-end luxury apartments for the rich (as part of the government’s redevelopment strategy) complicates the situation even more. Different classes mix in the same area without complete displacement of one by the other. The remaining working-class chawls are being increasingly ghettoised and entrapped by the high walls of the emerging gated communities on the mill lands, not only creating a sense of discontent but igniting a process of negotiation and bargaining for some and entrapment for many.