The Last of the Koli

BY SOME accounts, the Koli bloodlines on the seven islands of Mumbai stretch as far back as the stone age. Their people fished the waters of Maharashtra long before Alexander’s armies reached the tip of India or Asoka’s empire swept across the subcontinent.

(Rhett Kleine / Mumbai, India).

Death of the Mangroves

WITH their twisted knobbly grey roots and waxy green leaves, Mumbai’s mangroves may not have the romance of Tokyo’s cherry blossoms or the majesty of California’s giant redwoods, but they are by no means less iconic.

(Ari Balle-Bowness / Mumbai, India).

Hope and Debris

ON THE north-western edge of Mumbai, Ganpath Patil Nagar is a mass of a 100,000 people crammed in to 29 hectares of land on the edge of a mangrove swamp. It is home to anywhere between 10,000 and 20,000 shanties connected by a labyrinth of paths the residents call gullies. Down Kushboo’s gulley there is only one tap and it runs just twice a day for two hours at a time.

(Marena Janse van Rensburg / Mumbai, India).

Securing Supply

EVERY YEAR it is cat-and-mouse game between fast depleting water levels in the city’s reservoirs and the arrival of the monsoon from across the Arabian sea. With the water levels at a three-year low this year, sitting under 40% capacity, the monsoon can’t come soon enough for the city.

(Tom Roberts / Mumbai and Pune, India).

Leaks, Lobbyists and Laziness

Mumbai’s water supply system is plagued with deeply entrenched
problems that leave citizens struggling for every drop

(Navashree Nandini / Mumbai, India).

Water Mafia of Mumbai

AMONG the many crimes that litter his past, Gole was a strong man of the Mumbai water mafia and he says people who buy water from tankers either don’t know or don’t care to know, where their water comes from.

(Jake Kearnan / Mumbai, India).

Struggle Street

ACCORDING to India’s last census in 2011, about 42% of Mumbai city’s 12.5 million people live in slums. Maharashtra State Government’s Slum Rehabilitation Authority (SRA), puts that number at 6.5 million in June 2016, accounting for about 55% of the population within the city limits alone. SRA mapping from the previous year show 3,293 slum clusters spread over 9,008 acres or 36.45 sq km.

(Brittiny Edwards / Mumbai, India).

A Problem Political

KEMPS CORNER – a suburb at the southern end of Mumbai made up of picturesque colonial buildings dating back to British settlement, is the embodiment of old-money and wealth. It’s also the perfect example of a well-regulated community with access to clean potable water available in abundance for cooking, cleaning and bathing all hours of the day. It’s what one would expect of a city considered world-class.

(Joshua Holmes / Mumbai, India).

Sassoon Docks

NAMED after Sir Albert Abdulla David Sassoon in 1875, lies one of the oldest docks of Mumbai. Amidst the pristine streets of South Mumbai, Sassoon Docks is not hard to locate. One could walk straight from the Regal Cinema with their eyes closed and still be able to make it to the dock in one piece, owing to the overwhelming stench of the fish. Initially set for cotton trade, the dock is known for its fish now.

(Nidhima Taneja / Mumbai, India)

Gole: A man transformed

Petite and lanky, Laxman Gole only occupied the space he needed. He wore a crisp white shirt with a few creases here and there, navy blue pants and a wide belt which seemed to hold him together. 

(Aliza Noor / Mumbai, India).

The price of progress 

Rekha Parshuram Madvi is concerned. The tea stall she’s been running for 25 years, from her home in a roadside shanty, is her only means of income. But her family, like more than 3000 other people in the area, has lost its land to the construction of the nearby Navi-Mumbai international airport. 

(Himanshi Dahiya / Mumbai, India)

The cost of an airport

The Navi Mumbai International Airport, is slowly taking shape on what was once 1,160 hectares offishing villages. Tucked away inside a small clearing, on the edge of a narrow dusty road in what is left of Ulwevillage, Pallavi Jadhav fills a large aluminum pot with water, from a cracked pipeline.r compensation.

(Navashree Nandini / Mumbai, India).

Cleaner and safer

“Apna to life hi badal gaya” – our lives changed completely, says Kalpana Sampatrao Kamble, 60, about the transformation Tulshet Pada saw about 15 years ago.

(Tanya Awasthy / Mumbai, India)

Young People Solving the Water Crisis

Nearly half of India has no access to portable water. The country faces various challenges because of water shortages, climate change and pollution. The solution: educating children on the importance of water conservation. It is vital for the survival of generations to come.

(Courtney Thomas / Bangalore, India)


Many agricultural regions are chronically water-stressed and struggle with cumulative nutrient deficiencies putting farmers under pressure to produce viable crops. But an innovative few are hopeful of a brighter outlook, replacing rice and sugarcane with less thirsty crops.

(Samara McRae / Bangalore, India)

Water, sanitation and the schoolyard

Many places in India face a water crisis of some sort, and this is certainly true of the country’s government schools which often struggle with poor sanitation and water shortages.  Improving the situation requires fresh thinking and new ideas.

(Samara McRae / Bangalore, India)


The south Indian city of Bangalore was once known for its beautiful lakes and rich greenery, but due to urbanisation over recent decades, much of that natural greenspace has been lost and the city is now dominated by concrete. Experts say the city has lost more than 78 per cent of its canopy and 79 per cent of its waterbodies since 1973. They expect that by 2025, 95 per cent of the city will be concreted over.

(Courtney Thomas and  Adam Waters/ Bangalore, India)