How India's cities are splitting at the seams

by bharathi 2010-12-01 10:39:57

How India's cities are splitting at the seams

Mahitosh Sarkar came here from his distant village in West Bengal 12 years ago looking for a better life, and he found it. He abandoned the penniless existence of a subsistence fisherman to become a big-city vegetable seller. His wife found work as a maid.

Their four children went to school. Their tiny household, a grim but weather-tight room in a dilapidated tenement, had a color TV and a satellite dish.

But these days Mr. Sarkar is counting losses, not blessings. His 10-year-old son died along with more than 70 others when their tenement collapsed on Nov. 15. His wife is in the hospital with a broken leg. All of their possessions, including that color TV, are gone.

The crumbled remains of the illegal building in which the Sarkar family lived in a riverside neighborhood of East Delhi have become an emblem of India's failure to come to grips with its urban explosion. How India's cities are splitting at the seams


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