Mumbai, March 24, 2011
Nearly 200 slumdwellers, led by social activist Medha Patkar, gathered at the statue of Mahatma Gandhi near Mantralaya, to demand scrapping of Slum Rehabilitation Authority and implementation of Rajiv Awas Yojana (RAY), on Wednesday. Their congregation was to ‘warn’ the government to consider their demand, or face huge protests on April 5.
The march was held on Wednesday as it marked the death anniversary of freedom fighter Bhagat Singh and birth anniversary of freedom fighter Rammanohar Lohia. Said Patkar: “Representatives of various groups have gathered to warn the government that if our demands are not fulfilled, we will come in huge numbers to ask for our democratic rights. Our fight against land grab and corruption will continue. We wish to discuss our demands with the chief minister on April 5.”
Patkar has been demanding a slum development plan instead of the SRA that could enable the slum dwellers to self-develop their houses along with the property rights. “Poor people of Mumbai are rendered homeless in the name of development,” said Patkar.
“Our freedom fighters fought against the British, but we are fighting against our elected representatives. As elections near, they beg for votes from us. Once they come to power, they leave us begging for our basic rights for the next five years,” said Sandeep Yeole, a Ghatkopar-based slumdweller.
Meanwhile, a group of six, including activist Simpreet Singh, met chief minister Prithviraj Chavan on Wednesday with their demand of implementing RAY, a central government scheme that provides property rights to slumdwellers. “Chavan assured us that he will look into the issue and will discuss the details on April 5,” said Singh.