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Ghar Bachao Ghar Banao Andolan launches Awaas Haq Satyagrah
Slum dwellers claim their housing rights in Mandala, Mumbai
26th May, Mumbai/New Delhi: Thousands of slum dwellers, who had been displaced from Mandala over ten years ago, came together today to reclaim their land and rebuild their houses, in a historic struggle for right to housing and basic facilities of urban poor in Mumbai. Ghar Bachao Ghar Banao Andolan launched the Awaas Haq Satyagraha (Struggle for Right to Housing) along with residents of Mandala, supported by basti dwellers from across the city and at least 5 thousand slum dwellers continue to be on the satyagrah in Mandala, Mankhurd, Mumbai. This is a historic claim that people are making by asserting their basic rights to housing in a time where land is being increasingly doled out to the builder and corporate lobbies.
In 2004-05, over 75,000 people residing in slums of Mumbai were brutally evicted and their homes bulldozed. Ten years and several promises later, people are still homeless. With the swelling up of urban slums, the denial of basic facilities, social security and equitable share in the development gains has also continued. It was in this context that the Ghar Bachao Ghar Banao Andolan began and since then, has succeeded in ensuring a voice as well as rights of many slum dwellers. Thousands of poor having been raising the question of their rights of housing in front of every ministry, every department, every forum, and even to Sonia Gandhi and Margret Alwa who had promised in their congress manifesto the rights of the slum dwellers. Time and again, they have been manhandled, beaten up, arrested, tortured and the martyrdom of a small girl strengthened the struggle for justice. At the heart of the struggle are the instances of inequality, of corruption in SRA, of leasing out of land at 40 paise/acre to builder Hiranandani, non-distribution of available land to the poor. The slum dwellers, who struggle hard to make the ends meet, who cannot afford to buy even two yards of land for themselves, never demanded a house for free, instead even agreed to have not individual but houses considering slum or the community as a unit and proposed to make houses on the land they were residing themselves, yet they were never supported by the administration. They also been proposing alternatives and suggestions on the possibility to give housing to thousands of people in Mumbai if done so as per the need, with utilizing the ceiling land and collecting funds on the land leased out to builders for free. While many of these suggestions were approved in the Rajeev Awas Yojna and Mandala was chosen to launch the pilot project of RAY, the promise, however, remained unfulfilled till date.
Three thousand families in Mandala, who were evicted since 2008, but have submitted their proposal for RAY since 2009, haven’t yet got their right, nor are they included in RAY. Today, at7:30/8 am in the morning, people gathered and collectively occupied the land, 55 acres in total, that has been lying vacant since the demolition several years ago, and have started work to build their homes. Medha Patkar, Prasad Bagwe, Faiza Ahmed, Yuvraj and volunteers are with the people who are well prepared with lists and maps and boundaries are being demarcated boundaries. 17 societies in Mandala are ready to build and seek housing for their aged and children.
After the DCP and police force had a dialogue, the Tehsildar and collector’s men came, heard the demands of the dwellers and promised to get the collector, Mumbai for the dialogue. Their request to withdraw the agitation till then was unanimously rejected by all. The Ward officer, M (east) is to come for a dialogue soon. People have already mapped 10 by 15 plots and are willing and ready to erect shanties, not demanding. They have been waiting for 8 years for government’s schemes and for 4 years for response to RAY proposal. The demands of the Satyagrah include:
1. Mandala RAY proposal be approved and 3,000 families allowed to stay put till then.
2. All basic amenities to all slum communities as per section 5(A) of Slum Act, especially water and toilets.
3. No eviction before monsoon and never without an alternative.
4. SRA projects wherein corruption has been exposed, need to be reviewed with priority and justice should be done to people through due process with transparency and people’s participation.
Medha Patkar, Uday Mohite, Noor Jahan, Neha Jaymati, Subhadra Kedare, Ehsaan Sheikh and others
Address where action is taking place: Indira Nagar, 30 feet road near Samajwadi Party office, Mandala-Mankhurd
Contact : 09958660556, 08286581291