Mumbai Slum-Dwellers Hold Awareness Rally Against Cut-off-Date! Against Demolition!
By Ghar Bachao Ghar Banao Andolan
12 October, 2015
Mumbai, 12 October, 2015: A 300 strong rally rocked Andheri today as slum-residents poured in to demand the safety of their homes from reckless demolition by the government. Recently, homes of the people living in Malvani, Mandala and Mankhurd slums were brutally demolished citing various reasons and vague excuses. Thousands of people including senior citizens and children were rendered homeless overnight. Still unsatisfied, the government is now planning demolition drives in Sidhartha Nagar, Chaar Bangla (Andheri West) where there is massive unrest among the people.
Sometimes slums are demolished in the name of cut-off dates, sometimes citing forest land or sometimes encroachment but there is no procedure for alternative shelter or rehabilitation for the displaced. On the other hand, grand promises are made by Prime Minister, Narendra Modi in the name of “Housing for all by 2022”. If the government is serious about providing housing then why has Maharashtra government declared 1.1.2000 as the cut off date which will decide the legality of the slums and shelters of the poor?
While slums are being razed in order to protect mangroves, the same spaces are being parceled to builders who are building complexes and multi-storeyed in these protected lands causing more environmental damage.
In a megapolis like Mumbai cost of livelihood is so high that a poor person cannot buy a house or even rent a decent house. Facing the brunt of unemployment in their respective states, many landless labourers and skilled artisans migrate to the city looking for a livelihood and are ready to work even for wages below the minimum rates. After they set up small shacks in lands and make them habitable, they are uprooted and the lands are given off to builders.
Slum-residents across Mumbai have organised themselves against these attrocities and have held massive demonstrations in the city bringing it to a standstill. These are the same people who understake the most menial of jobs and make the city tick round the clock and won’t tolerate any infringment upon their rights.
Jamil Akhtar, GBGB Karyakarta and tailor by profession criticized the government mentality that slum-dwellers are a burden on the city. For every Rs. 250/- of a minimum wage that a labourer is paid, the business owners earn a profit of Rs. 2500-3000. The government is paid tax through this money. Domestic workers from bastis take care of the homes and food of people who work in white collar jobs. How can their invaluable contribution to the society be denied, he lamented. Girija Gupte and Mary from Jagruk Kamgar Manch exposed the hypocrisy of politicians who woo slum dwellers for their votes and later ruin their homes and livelihood. Zubaida and Asha also extended solidarity on behalf of Ghar Haq Committee. The triumphant rally will now assemble for a General Body Meeting in Sidharth Nagar.
Ghar Bachao Ghar Banao Andolan demands,
1. - Give legal rights to slums where they are based
2. - Provide basic necessities like water, toilets, electricity to slums
3. - Manage migration by providing employment equitably in villages and towns
4. - Withdraw cut-off date clause and provide right to shelter to all
5. - Rehabilitate in the same location as before
6. - Provide PDS services in slums
7. - Build Primary Schools and Health Centers
GBGB awaits feedback and comments from all citizens to make Mumbai a better city!