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Press Releases, Protests

Press Release: Unlawful demolition leaves 600 homeless in Mumbai

GHAR BACHAO GHAR BANAO ANDOLAN

c/o NAPM, Room No 29-30, Ist Floor, A Wing, haji Habib Building, Naigaon Cross Road, Dadar (E), Mumbai 14

Press Release 21st May 2014

UNLAWFUL DEMOLITION OF 130 HOMES, 600 RENDERED HOMELESS

Slum dwellers start Satyagraha asserting their right to shelter: Aam Aadmi Party to support

National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM) condemns the unlawful eviction of 600 people and brutal demolition of 130 homes that took place at 90 ft. Road, Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar Nagar, Mulund (E), Mumbai yesterday, May 20th.

In January 2013, Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan had set up an enquiry commission to curb corrupt practices plaguing 6 SRA (Slum Rehabilitation Authority) projects and Re-development plans in slum areas of Mumbai after local residents had exposed the irregularities. The commission was led by Mr. Debashish Chakrabarty, Principal Secretary (Housing).

It is after 1 year and 5 months of investigation that Mr Chakrabarty submitted his report to Chief Minister in which it is concluded that the slum dwellers should approach the Additional Collector for getting the eligibility issue resolved, and for other issues they are asked to submit their application to the SRA who would give an hearing and settle the issues. All this is yet to happen. It is also not clear that whether the CM has approved the report however the report is recently received by NAPM and the NAPM was to act on the same. It is therefore absolutely unjustifiable that the houses are demolished without serving the purpose of the enquiry itself.

While the enquiry is extra-ordinarily delayed, Samarth Spark Developers have used this opportunity to their own advantage, which is grabbing land by displacing the poor. First, they have cleverly manipulated the law by prompting Ashtabhuja Society to file a case against them (vide writ petition 647/2014 date. 03.04.2014) as a result of which the High Court has ordered demolition of these houses. Whether the court was kept in dark about the enquiry commission or not, its judgement has led to the demolition even before the enquiry’s final findings. Then, in cahoots with the local administration, they’ve carried out the demolition before the victims could take recourse to law.

Demolitions were carried out in the early hours of morning by Tehsildar Smt. Dalvi under direct orders from Deputy Collector Ravi Patil.

Out of the 136 demolished homes, 16 were unsurveyed and hence didn’t qualify for demolition.

Out of the demolished houses 111 didn’t qualify under the 1/1/95 cut-off for slum dwellings but they were to be in the process of getting declared as eligible since the government had decided to increase the 95 cut-off to the year 2000. [‘Free housing for slumdwellers till 2000’ |TNN | Jan 3, 2012]. The Deputy Collector was well-informed about this process but went ahead with the demolitions showing clear bias for the builder fraternity at the cost of urban poor. It is thus clear that the election promises to the urban poor in Mumbai have already forgotten and the politicians are back to their unjustice & illegal practices.

Ten households which were legal structure, but had denied rehabilitation in transit camps were also evicted. Their inability to move into the transit camp was again an administrative blunder as the camp was situated on disputed land (public playground). In any case the transit camp are in a very bad condition and while others are compelled to stay there this households had demanded a legal and liveable transit accommodation. Such high-handedness is unacceptable in any civilized society and can only lead to further disenchantment of the people from administrative machinery and alienation from recourse to law. Other households have been demanding their inclusion in the housing scheme of ashtabhuja society as project affected person (PAPs) since this was accepted by the ashtabhuja society when they were granted the land for the housing project inspite of about 600 families living on the land at the time of allotment.

Ms Medha patkar had called and spoken to Chief Minister asking him to intervene in the matter and not to permit eviction and demolition of houses till the process of enquiry is completed and justice is assured. He had promised to do the same but with no avail.

Eviction notices were handed out on 19th May, 2014 at 1 PM. Showing exemplary promptness and utmost loyalty to their builder benefactors, officials carried out demolitions much before the stipulated deadline of 24 hours was over. At 9.30 AM, 600 families including children, senior citizens and a large number of women were thrown on the streets. Their personal possessions lie buried in the rubble, and in the scorching heat and an impending monsoon, all these citizens of Mumbai have been cruelly left at the mercy of nature.

In the past 11 years, SRA plans have shown little progress. The CAG report for Maharashtra (Civil) dated 31st march 2011 clearly indicates the failure of this scheme.

It is important for media to note the fact that in the past, Chief Promoter of the SRA – Moreshwar Koli and aides of Samarth Spark Developers led by Dattaji Desai and Raju Salve have taken violent measures to take over the land. They are responsible for not just intimidation, but goons were hired on 10th July, 2011 to inflict serious assault on members of Ambedkar Basti.

At this hour of extreme injustice, we seek the support of all citizens of this country who believe in the basic right of shelter for all human beings. Demolition is an act of violence with official sanction; its victims are poor who are living in shanties not out of choice. By criminalizing hard-working women and innocent children, Mumbai will only become a city but without a heart.

Sumit Wajale (9892727063) Altamash Shaikh (7738991699) Poonam kanojiya

Ajay Palande Santosh Thorat Jameel bhai.

About Intercultural Resources

Intercultural Resources is a forum for research and political intervention on issues related to the impacts and alternatives to destructive development. Our effort draws upon the social, cultural, material and intellectual resources that have been generated in the course of dialogues between people of different cultures on questions of social justice, development and self-rule. We are of the view that dialogue can sustain plurality and open possibilities for recovery of the ground lost on account of inter-cultural alienation, which is manifest in a variety of forms of violence that we encounter everyday at different levels of social life. Intercultural Resources is based in Delhi, India. Email: ihpindia@gmail.com

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