Daily News Analysis, May 26 2015, Mumbai: Led by social activist Medha Patkar, around 1,000 residents of Mandala village in Mankhurd agitated against the government, demanding permission to rebuild their houses in the area. Calling it the ‘Ghar Bachao, Ghar Banao Andolan’, the protesters stated that it is their right to be permitted to set up their houses in Mandala, after they were forcefully evicted ten years back.
In 2005, around 75,000 houses were demolished in Mumbai, out of which 3,200 houses belonged to residents of Mandala slum. Since then, most of the evicted residents have been living in different areas on a rental basis. “My husband has passed away soon after our houses were demolished. I had no option but take up shelter in a house, where I pay Rs 2,000 as monthly rent. I have been selling vegetable in the locality to gather money to afford the rent,” said 45-year-old Mumtaz Begum.
Patkar had led a similar protest in January, 2007, at Azad Maidan, seeking permission for the evicted residents to build a house in the locality which was once their home. “We continued the protest for another few months in 2007. The demonstrators were on a diet of only khichdi for days, but the government did not pay heed to our demands. So we are back again this time to register our protest,” said Amravati Surajwali Chaudhri, who was protesting at the site.
According to the activist, the government had declared that Mandala comes under Costal Regulation Zone (CRZ). “We were told that the area comes under the CRZ category so it cannot be a residential area. However, the government is keen on developing industries instead. How is that justified? Here the residents are only asking for permission to re-build their homes, which they intend to do without endangering the mangroves,” said Patkar.
On being approached, Shantaram Mahadeo Patil, corporator of the area refused to intervene in the matter.