Priti Gulati Cox
Kadam Chawl (Footsteps Slum)


Kadam Chawl (“Footsteps Slum”) in Mumbai, India consists of ten one-room, concrete-block homes lined up along a cramped stone pathway. Near the slum's entrance is the feature most crucial to its residents' survival: the main water tap. Residents depend on the municipality for their entire water supply, and the time window for capturing water is not wide – about half an hour every night. In December 2010, I spent one day and one night in Kadam Chawl documenting the families’ water collection, and their careful use of this very precious resource – for cooking, drinking, bathing and cleaning. As Priya, one of the residents there so clearly put it, “If you miss a day praying to God, nothing will happen to you. But if the water doesn't come for a day, then you really do have a problem."

In India today, growth and development are euphemisms for inequity and displacement. This project is part of my on-going body of work entitled Vanishing India, which draws attention to the systemic practices of the state and corporations that uproot and displace people from their rightful access to "common property" resources such as land, water, seed and livelihoods. The five percent of India that is, in the business propaganda term, "shining" today is leaving behind a very long shadow in its path - a new, hungrier, thirstier India.

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