Izzat ka Pani depicts the struggle of Abrar Salmani, resident of Bhim Nagar, Mankhurd, one of at least 62 informal settlements in Mumbai denied legal water access. He is part of the Pani Haq Samiti (PHS), a collective of community leaders from 54 of these settlements across 17 wards of Mumbai.
PHS has been on the forefront of the movement for Universal Water and Sanitation Access in Mumbai since its inception in 2007. In April 2020, during the strict COVID-19 lockdown, the Salmani home was connected to the city’s piped water supply after a decade-long wait. In Salmani’s words, he was finally granted ‘Izzat ka Pani’.
Mumbai, the financial capital of India, sources and distributes over 4 billion litres of water daily. With an estimated population of 12.8 million by 2021, it has the capacity to supply over 200 litres of water to every resident, every day. Despite this, over 2 million citizens are denied legal water access by the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM), the richest civic body in Asia. This forces them into an undignified life, vulnerable due to the lack of regular hygiene, spending a significant amount of their time and income trying to source the most basic need of life – water.
On 28th April 2020, MCGM installed 5 stand-post water connections in Bhim Nagar, servicing approximately 5 households each, including the Salmani household. This film describes Abrar Salmani’s decade-long journey to access his Right to Water, a prerequisite to the Right to Life, guaranteed by the constitution of India. Through this journey, we glimpse into the lives of Mumbai’s urban poor, the political and systemic injustice they face when trying to access water and sanitation, as well as the on-going efforts of citizen collectives to reform this system.
Qurratul Ain Contractor is an architect from Mumbai. As a recipient of the Rotary Scholarship for Water and Sanitation, she is studying Water Management and Governance at IHE-Delft, Netherlands.
Jayant Parashar is a Mumbai-based cinematographer with a degree in Journalism and Mass-Communication, and an interest in documentary film-making.
Accelerating Access Coalition (AACO) is a consortium that aims to prioritize the agenda of improving citywide inclusive and resilient access to Water, Sanitation, Hygiene (WASH) and Healthy Spaces for improved health and well-being outcomes and economic prosperity for all. This article has been written with the inputs from AACO and other third party resources however, all views expressed by the author(s) in the article are of his/her/their own and AACO does not assume and hereby disclaims any liability to any party for any loss, damage, or disruption caused by views, errors or omissions of the author(s).