June 24, 2005

Mumbai Hutment Dwellers' Struggle: An Update - June 23, 2005

From: Sukla Sen
Date: Thu June 23, 2005
Subject: Mumbai Hutment Dwellers' Struggle: An Update

[The monsoon has already set in. There's no move to provide immediate, even if temporary, relief. This is a very serious omission.

The enumeration, if carried out as an exclusively bureaucratic process, would result in huge exclusion. The process would also be vitiated by usual corrupt and extortionist practices. The state government is hell bent on doing precisely that. At the next hearing, on July 11, the court must be requested to intervene a fair enumeration by forming a monitoring committee having representatives of the people's / hutment dwellers' organisations and also institutions like TISS / Nirmala Niketan, in addition to the bureaucrats. The committee must have power to lay down norms and hear grievances.

This is a great opportunity to push for a rational and humane housing policy and true makeover of Mumbai - with affordable housing for the toiling multitude eliminating the abysmally subhuman living conditions those obtain today. Activists and experts must put their heads together to put forward a serious people's plan, at least in broad outlines, for true Mumbai makeover. Mere rejection of the government actions/moves would just not do.

Vilasrao had gone to the court to use it as a foil against the directives from Sonia Gandhi. But things apparently are moving in a very different direction. The activists must be ready to make the fullest use of the unforeseen and unanticipated opportunity. It's time to put forward and assert the right to shelter as a basic human and also constitutionally guaranteed fundamental right in a constructive and positive manner.]

NATIONAL ALLIANCE OF PEOPLE'S MOVEMENTS (NAPM) Haji Habib Bldg., First Floor, A wing, Naigoan Cross Rd., DADAR (East), MUMBAI 400 014.


Press Note: Mumbai, 22. June 2005

Today the Advocate General of Maharastra raised the issue of Mumbai's slumdwellers in the High Court of the honourable Chief Justice Shri. Bhandari and Justice Shri Vajefdharke. The State filed a notice of motion in a case from 1999. They wanted the approval of the Court in extending the cut-off date for providing temporary rehabilitation during the monsoon to slum dwellers that have resided in the city from
1-1-95 to 1-1-00. They have proposed to house the slum dwellers in Mankhurd Mandala in the eastern suburbs and Ambujawadi in the western suburbs.

The Court said that the State has the right to decide about the aforementioned issue. There is no need to involve the Court. The Andolan has been making this point since the beginning, but the State government has been taking the stand that the approval of the Court is required. This has resulted in the delay of rehabilitation of evicted slumdwellers and in the non-compliance of the notices from Smt. Sonia Gandhi. Due to this, thousands of families have not yet been rehabilitated, despite the onset of the monsoon.

The Advocate General of Maharastra has submitted that they want to rehabilitate families who arrived in Mumbai by
1-1-2000. The exact numbers will be affirmed after the ongoing survey is completed. The Court, without mentioning any cut-off date, stated that every citizen has the right to shelter and housing. No one can stop any citizen from entering Mumbai and there can't be any restriction on movement of people in a democratic state. Furthermore, the State has said there has to be an affordable housingpolicy for the poor. The State has to also provide houses to those that cannot afford to pay. The Chief Justice commented that the Court has not stopped the government in providing any form of immediate relief. He also requested the State, in order to fulfill its constitutional obligation of providing shelter to every citizen, to draft a comprehensive housing policy and submit it before the Court. The next
hearing will be on
11th July. The Court asked the Advocate General to also initiate a dialogue with the concerned organisations within the next four days so that a consensus can be reached.

The slumdwellers were represented by Advocates Mihir Desai and Vinod Shetty. The organisations Cityspace and Agni were represented by Shri Aspi Chinod and Shri K. K. Singhvi represented the BMC.

The State has been talking about and is committed to providing immediate relief only to people who have proved that they have been residing in Mumbai prior to 1-1-2000, not until the end of the year 2000. But in reality, the State has made no arrangements. With only the pre-2000 slumdwellers in mind, the State has only said that each family will receive 150 sq. meters [it's actually sq. ft. and that too against payment of Rs. 15,000.00], but the land has not been leveled yet to allow for settlement and no structures have been built. It would have been better, if during the monsoon period, if the government would have permitted the people to resettle temporarily on the land from which they were evicted.

The struggle will continue until the people are adequately resettled and their rights to housing are recognized.

Mohan Chauhan
Kaushilaya Salve
Medha Patkar

May 17, 2005

Dispute Tears at Mumbai: House the Rich, or the Poor?

(The New York Times - May 17, 2005)

Dispute Tears at Mumbai: House the Rich, or the Poor?

Published: May 17, 2005

MUMBAI, India - In the belly of this island city, the textile mills are overrun by weeds and their chimneys point at the sky like so many sooty elephant snouts. A glassy new high-rise glistens incongruously nearby. A construction crane peers over a giant crater where a mill has been demolished to make way for four luxury apartment towers.

Scott Eells for The New York Times
In striving to become a modern commercial center, "a city of the future," Mumbai has leveled many slums.

Paul Hilton/Bloomberg News
Where slums and abandoned textile factories once stood, high rises, office buildings and expensive shopping malls are going up in Mumbai.

For over a century this neighborhood, known as the Mill Lands, drew migrants from the countryside, fostered a politically powerful trade union movement and turned what was once a cluster of fishing villages into India's buzzing commercial capital.

Today the mills are dead, the lots on which they stand are among the few patches of property available in a bursting city, and the debate over what to do with the land goes to the heart of what kind of city Mumbai expects to become.

City officials, citizens groups and, lately, the courts are fiercely wrangling over questions like how much land will be set aside for parks and affordable housing, what will happen to the mill workers, who are central to Mumbai's creation myth, and whether developers should be allowed to turn the old factories into nightclubs and luxury apartments.

What is at stake is the future of the city's past.

Already, a 29-story luxury hotel has sprung up in the Mill Lands, as well as several new office blocks and an exclusive shopping mall.

Environmental groups have gone to court in an effort to set aside a chunk of the remaining 600 acres for public use. In April, a Mumbai court put a temporary halt on development.

[In a reversal in early May, the Indian Supreme Court gave its blessings for construction to continue, initially on seven large parcels.]

The wrangling comes at a time when Mumbai, or Bombay, as the name was spelled for centuries, a city that is as alluring as it is frustrating to the roughly 14 million residents, is engaged in a larger debate about identity.

Will it remain a magnet for strivers from the countryside? Will it be able to draw foreign investment? Will it stand out as India's global city?

"Bombay is a city of the past," declared Narendra Nayar, an industrialist and the chairman of a business lobby called Bombay First. "It must be a city of the future."

Mr. Nayar's group is in large part responsible for setting off the spat over Mumbai's future. Armed with a report prepared by the consulting firm McKinsey & Company, it called over a year ago for a radical $40 billion makeover of the city: clearing slums, and building a new subway, public toilets and an airport tarmac without shanties on the margins. Titled Vision Mumbai, the report dangled the prospect of transforming the city into a Shanghai on the Arabian Sea.

The dispute that Vision Mumbai unleashed served to demonstrate amply why Mumbai is not Shanghai now, and won't be anytime soon.

"Now, you can't straightaway say we want a world-class city and we don't want anything ugly," said Neera Adarkar, an architect and a passionate foe of Bombay First's notion of the city. "Just because you don't want to see them, they're not going to suddenly disappear."

The government's efforts to demolish slums earlier this year caused such a ruckus that it stopped after two months, and prompted the state's chief minister to be summoned to New Delhi for a talking-to. (The Congress Party-led coalition that governs India, after all, owes its victory largely to the poor.)

Citizens groups have gone to court in an effort to save the Mill Lands for public space. Weekend tours of demolished slums have been organized to show solidarity with the displaced. Freedom-of-information requests have been filed to reveal which properties are actually publicly owned. Citizens have quarreled endlessly over Vision Mumbai.

"I hate that word," complained Charles Correa, Mumbai's most acclaimed architect and urban planner. "There's very little vision. No one really knows. They're more like hallucinations."

Vision or hallucination, the charged debate points as much to the city's vitality as to its desperation. More than half its citizens live in slums. Railroad tracks serve as toilets because there are none for those who do not have proper homes. The sardine-can nature of living means the rich simply cannot ignore the poor, as they can in many other cities. To commute every morning from the fancy northern suburbs is to drive past thousands of shanty dwellers, brushing their teeth in the streets.
"Bombay is where India meets the world," declared Gerson D'Cunha, a retired advertising executive who founded an influential citizens lobby called Agni Mumbai. "That's what has made people say, enough is enough, we've got to do something."

The paucity of land in Mumbai - what Mr. D'Cunha calls "a famine for land" - makes the fate of the Mill Lands a highly charged debate.

From his milk stand across the street, a former mill worker named Ganpath Shankar Gorgaonkar, 65, threw a rueful look at the up-market High Street Phoenix mall, where the famed Phoenix Mills once stood. In the fading light, the silhouettes of construction workers could be seen erecting another high-rise tower.

"When I see this, I feel very sad," he said. "No middle-class people can stay here."

In the back room behind his shop, his son, Sunil, a commercial photographer, edited digital photos on his desktop computer. Never, he said, had he considered following his father into the mills. Occasionally, he hung out with friends at the Barista Cafe inside the mall. He understood, nonetheless, why men like his father felt out of place here: "He's from the old times."

He understood, too, he said, how times had changed for the working men of Mumbai. In his father's day, a mill worker could feed his entire family. Today, he said, entire families work to feed themselves.

The textile factories flourished for 150 years before they were finally killed by industrial strikes in the 1980's. Over the next two decades, the mill owners converted their properties into lucrative ventures and managed, in 2001, to tweak an older municipal law that required them to set aside a third of the land for public use. In the end, the law stipulated that only a small fraction be set aside.

[The latest Supreme Court ruling has given mill owners and developers a shot in the arm. "It is a wonderful judgment," said Niranjan Hiranandani, one of India's largest developers. "This will add a lot of area for development, which is very much needed in Mumbai."]

Of the nearly 60 mills that once operated here, more than a dozen have been converted into office towers, shops and apartments. About 40 are left.

For the city's developers, it is like manna from a real estate heaven. For urban planners, it is a bounty with which to resuscitate the cramped city center. For those who live there, it is a scary prospect of change.

"There's a great deal of money to be made, and everybody is struggling with their greasy fingers," Mr. D'Cunha said. "The question is, which political view will prevail?"

May 12, 2005

Fact file about the Slum Demolitions, Bangladeshis et al.. (NAPM)






The Indian People‚s Human Rights Commission (IPHRC) requested us ˆ Justice (Retd.) R.B.Mehrotra and J.B.D‚Souza, former Chief Secretary, Government of Maharashtra ˆ to hold an unofficial judicial enquiry into the lathi charge by the Mumbai police on the 6th April 2005, on a morcha taken out by people whose homes had been demolished by the State and municipal authorities in Mumbai in December 2004.

The scheduled dates of enquiry were notified as the 23rd and 24th April 2005. We made our enquiry at three places, one in Mumbai‚s eastern suburbs and two in the western suburbs. We submit this report after examining people who were injured in the lathi charge, media persons who were covering the demonstration, social activists and eminent people, who gave eye-witness accounts.

Further, we made an attempt to secure the version of the Government of Maharashtra , and of the police, in particular. Letters were addressed by the IPHRC to Shri R.R.Patil, Deputy Chief Minister and Home Minister, Maharashtra, the Commissioner of Police, Shri A.N.Roy, Mumbai, Shri Naval Bajaj, DCP , Zone I, Mumbai, Sr.PI Shri Kaiser Ahmed, Azad Maidan Police Station and PI Sanjay Kadam, Azad Maidan Police Station, Mumbai. However, there was no reply from any of them.

Since there was no response to the request, we thought we too should address Shri Patil, to enable us to come to a correct conclusion. We suggested that the Minister might decide on a time and place for such a hearing. But no official came, nor did the Minister reply, so that we have no idea of the official version except for the Police Commissioner‚s statement which appeared in the press on the 7th April.



1.1 Suddenly toward the end of 2004 Maharashtra‚s Chief Minister announced that he would turn Mumbai into a world-class city. As a model to emulate he chose Shanghai. Pursuant to the goal he had chosen he decided to demolish squatter slums put up after 1995. (Slums created up to that year were protected by an earlier government decision.) In his quest for votes in the October 2004 State elections the CM vowed that if elected to power the government would regularize slums created up to 2000, but he resiled from that promise after winning the elections and assuming power. (The switch from 1995 to 2000 could possibly lead to his prosecution under Sec. 417 or 420 IPC, for cheating a slum dweller into voting for the Congress ˆ but that is not a matter that concerns us in this enquiry.) The Congress manifesto also promised that jhuggis built up to 2000 would be protected.

1.2 The growth of Mumbai‚s population is too readily ascribed to an influx of poor people from India‚s villages. That was true up to the 1970s, but since then it has been the natural increase of the city‚s existing population that has greatly outpaced the rural influx as the primary growth factor. There is still, of course, a steady influx, but even the CM, who is also the Minister for Urban Development, is quite ignorant of its pace. He has regularly claimed that 350 rural families immigrate into Mumbai daily ˆ an exaggeration by a factor of at least ten.

1.3 The principal reason for the continuance of the influx, such as it is, is the persistence of rural poverty. Villagers move to the city because gainful employment is scarce in their villages. Many in the lower castes move to escape the tribulations that afflict those castes more obtrusively in small rural communities. To these factors must be added the displacement of people, specially tribals, from land that governments acquire for large projects. Clearly the move to the cities is a consequence of circumstances that the government should itself have addressed during the half century after independence.

1.4 In their treatment of the rural influx, mostly of poor people, our governments have not tried to provide affordable shelter to accommodate them. So they are forced into squatting wherever they can find space in the cities, however wretched the conditions that prevail in such settlements. Successive governments‚ response to the growth of such slums in Mumbai has been simply a promise to tolerate those created before a certain date, a date that keeps moving forward in fits and starts when elections draw near. Up to mid-2004, that date was 1995.

As we have seen above, election fever led to its shift to 2000, a promise Mr Vilasrao Deshmuh tried to deny after he became CM at the end of 2004. Today the majority of Mumbai‚s citizens are forced to live in slums. In fact, as a recent Right-to-Information disclosure by the police department has shown, 4413 constables and 81 police officers live in slums.

1.5 Mumbai‚s municipal and revenue authorities sprang with alacrity into a massive program to demolish slums set up after 1995, and in an incredibly short period of two months made some 90.000 slum families homeless. In their haste, they destroyed large numbers of pre-1995 huts that had sheltered people who had papers like ration cards to prove the age of their residence. We visited Ambujwadi, one of the largest areas of demolition, on the 24th April, where we found many people whose names had been on the voters‚ list. Perhaps that was what inspired the pre-election Congress promise extending 1995 to 2000 for protection.

1.6 Our site visit also showed that large numbers of pucca constructions had been bulldozed during the demolition. The victims of the demolition bitterly complained that their belongings, including foodstuffs, utensils and ration cards had been destroyed.



2.1 The unfortunate incidents of April 6, 2005, into which we have been asked to inquire, commenced at about 11 a.m. at August Kranti Maidan. Some 8000 people assembled there. They collectively took an oath before the Gandhi statue, an oath to persist in their agitation against the large-scale demolitions, but to maintain peace throughout. They then walked in a morcha about 7 km. to Azad Maidan, which they reached about 2.30 p.m. All the way there they were escorted by the police, who could have warned their leaders if their meeting and movement to Azad Maidan were considered unlawful. On the contrary, a Canadian journalist deposed before us that they were cordial, capturing the excitement of the occasion.

2.2 When they reached near the BMC building opposite Azad Maidan they found that the Maidan was full, occupied by three or four other sets of demonstrators. Medha Patkar spoke to them over a microphone. She told them to sit down where they were, on the street and footpath, to wait till some space might be available in the Maidan grounds. Many of them were desperately thirsty after their long walk and tried to search nearby for water. While they were in the process of settling down, and Medha Patkar was in conversation with the police officers for a few minutes about the possibility of moving into Azad Maidan, the police presence around them ominously increased.

2.3 As the evidence before us unmistakably shows, the gathering was perfectly peaceful. There could have been no apprehension whatever of a breach of peace. This description was confirmed again and again by photographs taken at the time, and by the films shot by Anand Patwardhan and others, as well as by the narrations of those who deposed (over 80 of them), including independent observers, whom we list below :

· Sudhir Badami, structural engineer

· Sonia Nerkar, trainee journalist with Apla Mahanagar

· Sujata Gothoskar, Forum Against Oppression of Women ˆ beaten and medical report confiscated by police

· Sandhya Gokhale, beaten

· Maju Varghese ˆ works for ŒInitiative‚, beaten because he pleaded for women beaten inside the police station

· Vinod Hivaly, Apnalaya staff and Civil Defence Officer

· Chitra Palekar, film-maker

· Dave Ron, Canadian journalist, beaten twice.

· Ayub Shaikh, Reporter, Sahara Samay TV

Besides, we heard their accounts of the day‚s events from

Medha Patkar, who led the morcha

Anand Patwardhan, film maker

Subhash Baburao Marathe, President, Chembur Jhopadpatti Dharak Mahasangh

Praveen Ghag, member, Girni Kamgar Sangarsh Samiti

2.4 Suddenly the Deputy Commissioner of Police present there, Naval Bajaj, announced that he would shout "1 ˆ 2 ˆ 3" and the police would then disperse the crowd. Almost at once he screamed again "1- 2- 3" and the constables and inspectors (Kaiser Ahmed and Sanjay Kadam) began a lathi charge on the people seated there. Men, women (some of them pregnant) and children were thrashed indiscriminately, people stampeded in panic; many, particularly women and children, fell and badly hurt themselves. Participants in the morcha, who had sat on the ground in response to Medha Patkar‚s instructions, were beaten before they could rise. Medha Patkar was beaten and dragged into a police van. Patwardhan‚s camera, a target specially chosen by the police, was struck and flung to the ground. He too was dragged into a police van, his shirt torn to shreds. Some of the victims of the lathi charge were so badly injured that, two weeks after the incident, when they appeared to depose before us, they still had their arms or legs in plaster.

2.5 One of the children, Shabana, infant daughter of Salim Manihar, was so badly hurt that she died soon after reaching home. We visited the family‚s makeshift jhopdi outside the Ambujwadi demolition site, and consoled the child‚s parents. Salim had already addressed a complaint to the Azad Maidan Police Station in this respect on the 20th April. He verified its contents to us.

2.6 Large numbers of the demonstrators as well as others like Anand Patwardhan, were arrested. Some were beaten even after they were within the police station. One of them produced a receipt for Rs.500, paid to secure her release; she said she had actually paid Rs.2000.

2.7 We were given copies of a large number of medical treatment papers written up at St George‚s Hospital, Nair Hospital and G.T.Hospital. The rush of patients injured by the police lathis was so large that many persons seeking treatment were turned away. Some of those injured were treated at private clinics.



3.1 Was the demonstration on April 6 at any stage unlawful? We have carefully considered each of the five criteria listed in Sec 141, I P C, but find that none of them could characterize this demonstration. It was a demonstration aimed entirely at calling the attention of the state government and the public of Mumbai to the plight of the dishoused slum people, There was no force whatever, criminal or otherwise; there was no resistance to law or legal process; there was neither mischief nor trespass. The police had escorted the morcha all the way from August Kranti Maidan to Azad Maidan. Had the objective or the means of demonstrating been illegal it was surely the duty of the police to prevent the procession to south Mumbai.

3.2 And as to their conduct on arrival outside Azad Maidan, we have the evidence of independent witnesses, evidence that has emphatically convinced us that there was no truth at all in the claim by A.N.Roy, Police Commissioner, later that day, that the lathi charge was a response to stone throwing. The films shot by Patwardhan and others show no rocks or stones lying on the street after dispersal of the demonstrators. Even the Times of India report on the next day on the incident, ends with a contradiction of his claim. It is disgraceful that a senior officer of the Indian Police Service should descend to fabrication and falsehood to defend the indefensible.

We are satisfied, on the basis of the oral statements before us, the written statements we received, the films and newspaper cuttings we were shown, photographs and a floppy produced by Dave Ron, that there was no provocation whatever of any type by the demonstrators which could excuse such brutal and inhuman lathi charge as occurred.

3.3 As stated above, to give the police an opportunity to establish their version they were invited to appear before us. They did not. If they have an explanation of their conduct, they were not prepared to share it with us, for reasons that we can well understand.

3.4 We also asked the Deputy C.M., who is the Home Minister, to let us meet him. There was no response.



4.1 Was the lathi charge preceded by a warning to the assembled crowd, a direction that they disperse? Such a direction to a peaceful crowd, however unjustified, might have converted the assembly into an unlawful one. The law requires that the police give such warning before a resort to force. Chapter IX of the Criminal Procedure Code is clear.

4.2 We have incontrovertible evidence ˆ not only from Medha Patkar and the aggrieved slum people who deposed but also of several independent witnesses ˆ that there was no warning whatever, unless a cryptic and peremptory "1- 2- 3" declaration by the DCP, Naval Bajaj (and addressed not to the crowd but to his policemen), has to serve as one.



5.1 Authorities using force against activities they regard as disturbances of the peace are obliged to use as little force as they can, to bring the situation under control. There is a hierarchy of enforcement devices beginning with tear gas and water jets, with both of which, we understand, Mumbai‚s police are equipped. There is no justification for the police to have jumped straight to a lathi charge in their decision to disperse the slum dwellers‚ morcha. And when they did so, they did it in the most brutal fashion, thrashing children and women with babes in arms or after they had fallen in flight, accompanying their assaults with obscene abuse, of which witness after witness complained. One of the police officers, Kaiser Ahmed, even went to the extent of later trying to cajole into silence Salim Manihar, father of the deceased girl, on the ground that they were brothers, both Muslims, and he, Ahmed, would be of use in future. He got Salim to sign statements which were not read or explained to him.

5.2 Nor were the police justified in confiscating the medicines doled out to their injured victims. Para 62 in Volume III of the Bombay Police Manual, 1959, requires the police officers dealing with disturbances to arrange medical aid for those injured. Altogether, the police did everything wrong; they broke the law, they were barbarous, cruel and deceitful.



6.1 The constables who wielded the lathis so brutally, acted under the direct control and supervision of DCP Naval Bajaj and Inspectors Kaiser Ahmed and Sanjay Kadam, who personally watched the havoc they were wreaking. It is these three officers who are guilty of usurping powers they did not have and using them to harm innocent demonstrators. We are satisfied that (a) they deserve to be prosecuted under Sections 166 and 325 or 323, IPC, and (b) if the state government does not under Secs 132 and 197, CrPC, allow their prosecution, the High Court should be approached for a writ directing the government to do so.

6.2 It is a total breach of the law (and of para 113 of the Bombay Police Manual) for the police at the Azad Maidan Police Station to have refused to record an FIR about these incidents and for the Police Commissioner to have done the same when Medha Patkar approached him. Here too, we recommend prosecution under Sec 166, IPC.

6.3 We also recommend that those injured, and the parents of the child who died, be adequately compensated by the government, at the cost of the police officers who perpetrated this oppressive action and the Commissioner who tried to cover it.

6.4 We further recommend that those dishoused by the demolitions be provided with at least makeshift shelter at the same speed with which their homes were destroyed, to save them from the rigours of the monsoon.

The evidence collected by the Tribunal is available with The Indian People‚s Human Rights Commission, Mumbai. Contact : 9870042752


Haji Habib Building, Naigoan Cross Road,Dadar (E), Mumbai - 14

Press release

The role of Maharashtra Govt. regarding rehabilitation of slum dwellers is unclear even today. The discussion for planning the rehabilitation should be done only after rehabilitating all the slum dwellers on the same spot.

The chief Minister of Maharashtra, Shri Vilasrao Deshmukh has finally decided to raise the cut-off date from 1995 to 2000 which is viewed as a sign of the
Maharashtra Government moving one step forward.

According to the Chief Minister, it has been decided to bring the promise made by the NCP and Congress party in their election manifesto into reality. Only a few days ago, Maharashtra Pradesh Congress President, Smt. Prabha Rao, had stated during the May day celebrations that the mention of 2000 as cut-off-date in the election manifesto was a printing mistake. This has now been promptly denied. It is startling to note the contradictory statements issued regarding the basic rights of thousands of families from the labouring community who have been deprived of not only their houses but also their aily bread and are now perishing under the hot May sun. Also, the affidavit
produced by the State Govt. in respect of an older case (filed by the Relief Road Residents Association)is not completely satisfactory.

It is understood from the press that the Maharashtra Govt. has sought a ruling by the court through the affidavit, the hearing of which is due on 8th June,2005. The question is, can the govt. not overrule its own laws or earlier orders/decisions by issuing a fresh ruling in favour of the poor?

Various other laws like the Patent law, Electricity law are being bent at
free will. Wasn't asking for the court's permission possible or necessary before any such step? This raises doubts as to what is the real face or intention of the Government!

To the nearly 150 representatives of these poor families from Mumbai who met her yesterday i.e. on 7th May, 2005 Smt. Sonia Gandhi gave an assurance that the party has decided to rehabilitate all the displaced on the same plot of land as an immediate step. Whereas Shri. Gurudas Kamat, MP, has stated that everything has already been done in favour of the poor and declared the movement by the slum dwellers as unwarranted and a publicity stunt. In reality, the state Govt. has so far not paid any heeds to the Center or the party opinion and avoided giving relief to the poor families. Thousands of children, old,sick, hungry and thirsty have been left unprotected
in the open to face the cold, the sun and the impending rains.

Now, in the 7th May affidavit filed in the court, as per what the Maharashtra Chief Minister says, the families from 1995 to 2000 will be allotted
plots admeasuring about 150 sq. feet outside Mumbai by charging them Rs.15,000/- per family. This raises a number of questions.

1.What about the thousands of families whose houses have been demolished in spite of them belonging to prior 1995 period? These demolitions were not only unjust but also unlawful. Who will compensate for their loss and how?

2.Whether the Govt. will be responsible for leaving these people homeless, torturing them and depriving them of their constitutional right to live and

3. When their means of subsistence are within the city of Mumbai, close to where they were staying and from where they have now been evacuated, why should they be thrown out of Mumbai? Even today, there are thousands of hectors of land within Mumbai where the lease is already over, or which were leased to the rich for a pittance or land which was reserved for allotment to
the homeless under the Mumbai Development Plan or the land which was reserved under the urban land ceiling act and used unlawfully or land acquired by the rich and the able by trespassing CRZ Notification etc.

4.It is agreeable that the scheme for rehabilitation for the poor should be free from malpractices which enrich the already flourishing builders and give
costly accommodations to politicians at much cheaper rate. After allotting 150 sq. feet of land to the poor, it is agreeable to recover some amount from
them; but why in lump-sum? Why not on an easy installment over a period of time? Can the poor pay an amount of Rs.15,000/- at a time? While the Govt. is giving services and facilities like land-highway,infrastructure to the rich in the country, why not offer basic facilities like housing or other related amenities at a low cost or on easy installment to the poor? Can it be termed as a special obligation or against the welfare of the nation? In fact the Govt.is obliged to fulfill this constitutional responsibility.

5.Will the Chief Minister and the Govt. of Maharashtra, remove the police force and allow the families to resettle on the same plots from where
their house were buldozed in accordance with what Sonia Gandhi and her party has decided? The mansoon is fast approaching (less than a month from now) and it is an urgent need to resettle these poor families well before monsoon.

If the Chief Minister, Center and State Governments and the representatives of Congress-NCP-Republican Party do not take any decision in this matter after discussions with People's Movements, then we are in for a bitter struggle.

Suniti S.R., Sanjay M.G., Medha Patkar, Raju Bhise,
Kausalya Salve, Mohan Chavan.


C/o chemical Mazdoor Sabha, 1 st floor, A Wing, Haji Habib Bldg, Naigaon Cross Rd,
Dadar (E), Mumbai -400014).

Press Release: May 10, 2005


While both Bal Thakre with his son and nephew, as well as Vilasrao Deshmukh raised a hue and cry against the Bangladeshis taking over Mumbai, one got a feeling as the government tried hard to make us believe, that these "encroachers" are "terrorists" and "crowding" the country in large numbers. That they are "all criminals" and the country‚s peace, law and order, morality and culture- everything was at stake. The two senior-most of the opponent politicians in Mumbai must have felt threatened by this since both agreed on this common issue; one would have thought this was a crisis or a critical issue!

We therefore decided to get out any information on the Bangladeshis, if not their whereabouts, their anti-social activities as claimed by the government, starting with their number. The Right to Information Act came to our help.

The question raised has the official reply by now. There are (only) 626 Bangladeshis in the entire city of Mumbai, as of 2004.

Six hundred and twenty six out of one crore people in Mumbai and we‚re being made to believe they constitute an unprecedented threat!

And the slum-dwellers are to be defamed to get sympathy from the middle and upper class taxpayers, whose taxable property itself came through the blood and sweat of the poor, including poor Bangladeshis. They are to be evicted to snatch away the land. It is certainly to condemn the slum-dwellers as videshis and vagabonds that the Bangladeshi false allegation has been used.

The truth is that not the Bangladeshis but the desi corrupt builders and their protectors are the real threat to India. When American, European and other videshis are welcomed into our country, why not the Bangladeshis?

The hypocrisy and double standards of the government are evident and shameful.

Medha Patkar

March 01, 2005

Poor squeezed out by Mumbai's dream plan (Randeep Ramesh)

[The Guardian - March 1, 2005]

Poor squeezed out by Mumbai's dream plan
India's biggest city is razing its shanty towns

Randeep Ramesh in Mumbai

All that is left of 13-year-old Parvin Tamhankar's home is the red-tiled floor. Built brick by brick over the past 10 years with the money his father earned by sweeping floors in a city hospital, it was flattened in minutes by government bulldozers earlier this month.

"My brother and I have our exams in March. Now I have no books, nowhere to sit. There is no water and no electricity. I do not understand why all this had to happen," Parvin said.

His home was in a slum colony called Bhimchaya, made up of 500 "hutments", structures constructed of brick, mud and asbestos sheets, spread over a couple of acres on the edge of a dense mangrove belt. The 3,000 residents had banded together to get water connected and alleys lit by electric bulbs.

Since the beginning of the year about 90,000 huts have been demolished and an estimated 350,000 people have been left homeless, in line with the city authority's announcement of its intention to make Mumbai the "next Shanghai" by 2010. The £20bn development programme is based on a report by the consultants McKinsey.

In Vision Mumbai, McKinsey says the number of people living in slums should be reduced to about 10-20%. Mumbai is the world's eighth most expensive city for property, and more than half its population live in shanty towns, unable to afford its rents.

Minar Pimple, director of the People's Movement for Human Rights, which has been campaigning against the demolitions, said: "Half the people in the city occupy less than a tenth of its total space. Mumbai needs the labour of these slum dwellers but the city authorities do not want them living in the city."

There is little chance of rehousing the huge slum population in Mumbai quickly, experts say. The government builds only 3,000 houses a year to house relocated people .

Mr Pimple added: "We keep on hearing about urban renewal. First we would be Hong Kong, then we were going to be Singapore. Now it is Shanghai. All that happens is that the poor lose their homes without the city offering any alternative."

After Bhimchaya was razed, municipal officials promised to return with offers of alternative accommodation.

But they have only returned to check that no one is rebuilding in the slum, and families are forced to keep their belongings under tarpaulin sheets spread across bamboo poles.

Radhabhai Margunde, sitting on a muddy floor feeding her daughter, said: "In the morning when the policeman and the bulldozers came and told us get out, there were women bathing. They were not given time even to dress properly. We lost everything. We had papers to stay here. Where should I move now?"

Supporters of the demolition claim that slum-dwellers are holding back the city's forward march. Bombay First, a business lobby, points out that 40 slum families have prevented crucial expansion of Mumbai's domestic airport.

Its chief executive, Vijay Mahajan, said: "The airports authority could not extend the taxi track unless they evict these families. In the process, 2.5 million air passengers suffer, and 2,000 litres of turbine fuel is wasted. Are its legal citizens going to run this city or the illegal encroachers?"

The airport authority let the bulldozers roll into the disputed spot 10 days ago. In nearby Bail Bazar its displaced residents rushed forward with papers showing that the city had given tacit approval and basic services to the "illegal" settlement.

"I paid 40,000 rupees for my home and have the papers to prove it," said Sultana Syed, a 32-year-old cleaner, waving sheets of paper as she spoke. She pointed to photocopies of voting cards, ration cards and land titles that prove residence since 1995.

"I have everything here. But the police did not listen to us. We will vote out these people who did this."

Conscious of the gathering political backlash, the Congress party president, Sonia Gandhi, intervened earlier this month. Congress and its allies run Maharashtra state, and Mrs Gandhi summoned her chief minister to New Delhi to stop the levelling.

The result was that the demolition was halted last week and protection extended to slums built before 2000. This is little comfort to those whose homes have already been bulldozed.

Many experts say that the idea of trying to replicate Shanghai's success is pointless. The Chinese city was created out of largely empty space and its population, 13m, is spread over 4,500sq km (1,373sq miles). Mumbai is an island and its 14m people occupy just 437sq km.

SS Tinaikar, who was the city's senior official in the early 90s, said: "One is a new city created largely by foreign investment and the other is an old city being redeveloped, new layers upon old layers."

The problem was really about migration, he added. The city, one of India's most economically vibrant, contributing a third of the national tax revenue, attracts 100,000 people every year from outside Maharashtra.

"A hundred thousand outsiders in search of a job and therefore in search of a house. But the houses that are built are too expensive for the poor. The result is slums.

"By demolishing slums before you build low cost public housing all that will happen is that the slum will simply slowly spring up again."

February 27, 2005

Mumbai's 'Shanghai dream' hangs in balance (Sumeet Chatterjee)

Mumbai's 'Shanghai dream' hangs in balance (FEATURE)
By Sumeet Chatterjee, Indo-Asian News Service

Mumbai, Feb 27 (IANS) Shoving his belongings under plastic sheets and bamboo poles erected on a pavement here, Raju Tyagi shudders to think of the day when his tin-roofed shack was razed to the ground by a menacing bulldozer.

Tyagi, a migrant labourer from Bihar, is now waiting to be rehabilitated as the Maharashtra government halts the drive to demolish hutments that dot the landscape of India's bustling financial and entertainment capital.

A drive that is intended to free up space for development and make Mumbai "another Shanghai".

"Those people tore down the house where I was living for the last 11 years in just a few minutes," says a livid Tyagi.

"We want the government to give back our houses...they can't evict us from our homes like this in the name of development. I too paid a price to buy that house and I have a right to work and live in this city," he says.

With up to 60 percent of Mumbai's 16 million people living in slums ringed by towering condominiums and gleaming shopping malls, questions are being raised about the demolition drive that began December last year.

Over 90,000 hutments have been smashed to modernise this choking metropolis and reproduce the recent transformation of Shanghai, China's showpiece business city.

The Shanghai makeover was first talked about during the Maharashtra assembly elections October last year.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had then said the government would transform Mumbai into "another Shanghai" by 2010 as part of a larger plan of urban renewal, which is so far missing in most of the country's crowded and infrastructure-deficient cities.

"It's very unfortunate that the development of Mumbai, which was once India's most westernised city, has fallen prey to politics," says Narinder Nayar, chairman of Bombay First, an NGO.

"Forget about turning the city into the next Shanghai, the way things are moving the city will collapse very soon. Mumbai is decaying and nobody seems to have a clear idea what to do to stop this," he says.

The demolition of slums was stopped last week after the central government asked Maharashtra Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh to extend the protection to slums built till 2000.

Earlier, slums built till 1995 were protected by law, and the recent demolition drive targeted hutments that sprang up between 1995 and 2000.

According to Nayar, cleaning up illegal slums is the only way to ease pressure on the city's transport, housing and other utility services.

"Nearly 1,000 migrants come from poor states to Mumbai every day because they are told it is easy to get a job here. And once they are here, they manage to put up a hut by paying the slum mafia.

"The city's infrastructure has not grown to accommodate this influx. Nineteenth century infrastructure is supporting a city in the 21st century," says Nayar.

Mumbai's commuter trains, which link the suburbs with the main city and are considered its lifeline, carry over 700 people in one coach during peak hours.

Experts say the international norm is 200 passengers.

Despite an elaborate train service that rests only a few hours after midnight, Mumbai sees kilometre-long traffic jams on all major arterial roads.

Clearly the infrastructure hasn't been able to keep pace with the growing number of vehicles.

With the population exploding, homes are fewer and costlier than before.

The cost of real estate in Mumbai is the highest in the country, says consulting firm CB Richard Ellis.

The occupation cost, which comprises rent, local taxes and service charges, is ruling at $52.74 per square feet a year. In national capital New Delhi, it's $40.72.

Urban planners say the exorbitant real estate cost forces people even with reasonable incomes to live in slums.

"We have created a situation where the people are invited to encroach on public land. There is a nexus that nobody wants to break. As a result, the city has far exceeded its carrying capacity," says environmentalist Debi Goenka.

Arputham Jockin, president of the National Slum Dwellers' Federation, says it's wrong to blame the poor slum dwellers for the haphazard development planned by the authorities.

"The way people were evicted from their shanties and thrown out on the streets was inhuman. It doesn't happen anywhere in the world," Jockin says.

"If the slums have to be cleared, a proper rehabilitation plan should be first chalked out. Why can't the government make available large-scale low-cost houses for these people?" he asks.

Urban planners say there is enough space on the city's outskirts to construct one million low-income houses for the slum dwellers.

And let everybody who made Mumbai their home live the "Shanghai dream."

Indo-Asian News Service

Fire and earth (Dilip D'Souza)

[Magazine section - The Hindu, Feb 27, 2005 ]


Fire and earth

Visiting the site of a demolition drive in north Mumbai, DILIP D'SOUZA found his mind going back a few weeks: to a previous encounter with `fire', rubble and, yes, awe.

Nature's fury ... this destruction saw the waves bringing "fire" and mud.

SOME distance from where I'm standing, with my new friends Dilip Kale and Mohammed Muslim Pathan, is what used to be the Osmania Masjid. At least one or two thousand people would sit inside here to read namaz, they've told me more than once. It was "registered", says Mohammed, though what it means to "register" a mosque, I have no idea. But given that it was "registered", he goes on, the Municipality should never have torn it down.

Mohammed seems more disturbed by the demolition of Osmania Masjid than that of his own home, whose flattened remains we have just picked our way through. I can't share that sentiment, but I keep that disinclination to myself.

`This was my home'

We are in Ambujwadi, an enormous area of North Bombay that used to be swampland and then was a slum for many years, and through December and January has been utterly razed to the ground. Razed, not by a tsunami, but by my Municipality's own men and their equipment. Vast destruction, not in far-off Tamil Nadu or Indonesia, but right here, 45 minutes from my home; and in many ways more complete than the tsunami managed. This was my home, Mohammed tells me. On a beach in Tamil Nadu only weeks ago, a man called Palani had said the same thing. Now as then, I get a feeling of wonder. Because where Palani pointed to, and where Mohammed points today, I can't even imagine a home. There's just a patch — sand there, sand here — that each man outlines with a reaching finger, and I'm supposed to mine their memories and construct for myself what they once called home. Imagine some kind of structure standing on a bare square of land. Sand. It's hard.

`Equal opportunity' demolition

Several mosques, temples and a couple of churches succumbed to Municipal bulldozers here. Equal opportunity demolition, this. In turn, my companions take me to each such site in the area and paint air pictures — like of their once-homes — of what each worshipful structure looked like, looking expectantly at me each time for some exclamation of religious horror. I still can't oblige: really, homes that were destroyed, people sitting on rubble, upset me much more than these once-abodes of the gods, such as they were.

But as we near the hillock of bricks, tiles and concrete lumps that once was Osmania Masjid, I head for it from one side, planning to clamber over the debris and survey what remains of the mosque. "Not that way!" shouts Mohammed. "Come round here!" He leads me along what used to be the path beside the mosque, to what used to be the main entrance. "Please," he says quietly but very firmly, "please enter from here."

Destroyed as part of urban renewal.

Even as rubble, Mohammed reveres this place. I clamber over the debris that used to be the main entrance, into what used to be this mosque.

Not far away, the Hanuman Mandir is now a broken and badly burned pile of mud, bricks and assorted other rubble. Dilip Kale says the Municipal workers tore down the temple and then set fire to the debris. Somehow, the idol survived. Charred along one side, it sits forlorn, on a mound of bricks.

What happened here, I ask.

After they were done doing what they had to in Ambujwadi, the workers and the police who accompanied them came back to the pile that was this temple. They dug out the idol. They set several bricks carefully on top of each other. They put Hanuman, charred Hanuman, reverently on the mound. Then they stood back, their heads bowed in respect and remorse. "Forgive us, Hanuman-ji," they prayed, "for what we did to you."

None of Hanuman's more-human, more-mortal, fellow-residents of Ambujwadi got such an apology. And I find my mind going back a few weeks: to a previous encounter with fire, rubble and, yes, awe.

* * *

What was the colour of the wave, I ask Thirumurugan. The colour ... he looks around, searching. He points to the painted strip on the side of a smashed fishing boat that lies nearby. A dull orange, the strip. That colour, says Thirumurugan.

Not mannu but bhoomi

I don't know if it's because of this colour, or because of the great destruction the tsunami caused, or something else altogether. But every time Thirumurugan and his friends here refer to the tsunami, they also say, quietly, that there was "fire" in the water. As in, the wave brought "fire" as it swept into their village, Bommaiyarpalayam, and back out again. (Much of the destruction happened when the wave receded, because it went out faster, and even more forcefully, than when it came in).

This idea of fire is almost as hard for me to understand as a wave being orange, though perhaps the two are related. Still, the people here speak of it. I look around me at the effect this wet fire-like thing had on this beach hamlet north of Pondicherry, and I know: it's an interesting metaphor, and given what happened here, a telling one. But the wave brought something less metaphorical else as well. Mud. Black, stinking, ugly mud. Wandering Tamil Nadu after the tsunami, we've already seen lots of the stuff — mud inside clocks, inside pots, lying on the floor of a room like a diseased carpet, underfoot in a Dante-esque stretch near Nagapattinam that was littered with bodies. Mud everywhere. But here in Bommaiyarpalayam, when the fisherfolk refer to it, they don't use the usual Tamil word for it, mannu. They speak of it as bhoomi (earth).

No Indian needs to be told the connotations of that word. And when they speak of bhoomi, when they speak quietly of fire, I cannot help but wonder: is there almost a tone of admiration here? The wave was monstrous in what it did, of course; but now, a week later, do these people have a respectful awe for the ocean that lashed at them? Is it as if they are saying, we take so much from this gentle empress that lies out there in the sun, sometimes she must take back?

I don't know, but I wonder.

Thirumurugan speaks of the bhoomi with his hands cupped and lifting upwards, as if referring to an emotion that comes boiling up from somewhere deep inside. Clearly, what he means is that the wave scooped up the very bottom of the sea, the muddy bottom of the sea that smells so awful, and flung it violently at them.

Nearby stands Palani Arumugam, holding his daughter Madina. She is two years old, pretty and alert. When the wave came, she swallowed some of that mud. Over a week later, Palani tells me, she still brings bits of it out after she eats. He uses the same hand motion to describe this that Thirumurugan does, to describe the wave. As he does, Madina smiles at me. I try hard not to think of black bhoomi coating her delicate stomach, nor of it belching its way out.

And when this bhoomi-filled wave came into Bommaiyarpalayam like a tongue of fire, it surrounded all the houses. Then it rushed back to sea, taking big chunks of Bommaiyarpalayam with it: cupboards, fridges, parts of walls, boats and more. And how far out did it go? Two kilometres, says Thirumurugan. Yes, after the sea roared into Bommaiyarpalayam, it receded two kilometres towards the hazy horizon. A low tide, Thirumurugan tells me in a hushed voice, like Bommaiyarpalayam had never seen.

And all that bhoomi at the bottom of the sea was visible for a long time.

Whose city is it anyway ? (Satish Nandgaonkar)

[The Telegraph, February 27, 2005]

- ‘Present slum area not more than eight per cent of total land’
The airport cannot be extended unless the chawls are cleared. The slum-dwellers claim they developed the land — it’s theirs. Satish Nandgaonkar reports on the stand-off that has divided Mumbai

Mumbai makeover: Recent razings have left thousands of slum-dwellers homeless; Vilasrao Deshmukh (below)
Spread over 25 acres of reclaimed land, Ambujwadi looks like a patch of earth hit by a twister. Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s (BMC) light blue dumpers move on it like ants on a mound. Watchmen and BMC helpers scrounge for bamboo, rooftiles, plastic sheets — taking away any material that slum-dwellers can possibly use to reconstruct their hutments. Women and children mill around trying to save what they can. “They have even sealed the bawadis (water tanks). We don’t have water to wash or drink,” says Jayashree Shinde in a tired voice.

All her life, Shinde has moved from one slum to the other. She sold jalebis, and single-handedly brought up her two sons in this slum located on the edge of Mumbai’s civilisation. Her husband, who left her when the children were small, returned three years ago only to suffer partial paralysis. Just when she thought her sons, now temporarily employed, would lift the family out of this morass, the BMC bulldozers wiped her hutment off the map.

Shinde’s hutment is one of the 10,000 dwellings razed by the BMC in Ambujwadi, though the official figure stands at 7,000. Ambujwadi — which juts into Malwani’s mangroves in the Malad suburb — is the largest of the 28 sites flattened by the bulldozers. About 90,000 hutments were demolished since December 2004 and NGOs estimate at least four lakh people are homeless now.

The levelling juggernaut — one of the largest ever of any Maharashtra government — still continues. Many homes have been erased without warning and without explanation, even though some victims allegedly furnished proof that they had been living in the area for over 20 years. Miloon Kothari, who is United Nations’ special rapporteur on adequate housing, sums up the situation: “I have witnessed many demolitions in different parts of the world. But this is one of the most brutal evictions that I have seen.”

The erasure of shanty towns is the outcome of a new economic vision for the city as envisaged by its ruling elite. It is about Mumbai metamorphosing into Shanghai by 2013. Huge infrastructure projects — metro rail links, trans-harbours, state-of-the-art flyovers, ring railways and upgraded airports — are in various stages of completion across the western megapolis.

But a crucial part of a report, ‘Vision Mumbai’, which is more or less the roadmap for transforming Mumbai into a world-class city, is about “bringing down the number of people living in the slums from the current 50-60 per cent to 10-20 per cent”. And Maharashtra chief minister Vilasrao Deshmukh seems determined to pursue that goal. Even though many are asking the question: whose city are they really planning for?

Classes apart

It is a question that has divided the city on class lines. The pro-demolition lobby — the city’s builders, real estate agents and those who feel that slums hold back Mumbai’s transformation into a world-class city — wants speedier action. They believe that the city’s prime land has been encroached upon and the state has been a mute spectator so far.

Since the first slums survey in 1977, successive governments of different political shades have regularised the shanties on the eve of the elections. “The Sena-BJP government set up a 1995 cut-off date (that is, regularising slums built up to 1995), and now Congress wants to push it to 2000. Unless you stop it, Mumbai can only become Slumbai,” says Vijay Mahajan, chief executive officer of Bombay First, an independent body backed by corporate heads and Mumbai’s prominent citizens. Bombay First had roped in consulting firm, McKinsey & Co., to study and draft Mumbai’s proposed Rs 31,000-crore makeover with its Vision Mumbai 2003 report.

To illustrate the point that illegal slum-dwellers cannot hold Mumbai to ransom, Mahajan tells you the story of the Airports Authority of India (AAI) which has been fighting a long, legal battle to evict 40 slum families staying near the Santa Cruz domestic airport. “The AAI cannot extend the taxi track unless they evict these families. In the process, 2.5 million air passengers suffer, and 2,000 litres of turbine fuel is wasted. Are its legal citizens going to run this city or the illegal encroachers?” asks Mahajan.

But several NGOs and human rights groups have challenged this very concept of encroachment. Many slums came up in erstwhile marshy land with no government-sponsored infrastructure such as drinking water and electricity. Over the years, through the slum-dwellers’ efforts, these areas have grown into shanty towns — now worth crores of rupees in prime land — and are now being eyed by the real estate lobby and the land mafia.

Not surprisingly, there is a sustained campaign against the slums. Half-truths, such as the fear that slums will swamp the city, abound. But contrary to popular perception, only six per cent of Mumbai’s total land area (2,525 out of 43,000 hectares) is occupied by slums, as the state government’s own Afzalpurkar report (1995) shows. “Even if one assumes a 10 per cent increase, the present land occupied by the slums will not be more than eight per cent. So much for Slumbai,” says Deepika D’Souza, executive director, India Centre for Human Rights and Law.

Fear psychosis

A common thread running through the pro-demolition lobby is that slums are a heavy burden on the city’s overstretched infrastructure. The McKinsey Report says, “Slums have proliferated and congestion, pollution and water problems have skyrocketed.” However, a 2001 survey by NGO, Yuva, shows that only 5.26 per cent slum-dwellers have access to individual water taps and 62 per cent of them use public or shared toilets.

But with the campaign against slums being linked to the beautification of Mumbai, much of middle-class Mumbai has been silently supportive of the drive, a fact that the ruling combine hopes will help in countering the loss of the poorer voters.

But the razing’s impact goes beyond politics and economics. Few in the government are calculating the social and psychological trauma of the displaced. “We need to look at the impact on specific groups such as women, children and Dalits,” says Kothari.

That apart, in a city with a history of communal riots, any large-scale dislocations needs to be carefully thought out. “Especially, since we are creating separate zones for the rich and the poor. We are creating a true apartheid city,” he says.

Environmentalist Darryl D’monte, who authored the first comprehensive book on the decline of Mumbai’s textile mills, says that a survey done 20 years ago showed that a Mumbai slum-dweller moved house five times in a lifetime. He questions the skewed economics of the Mumbai makeover. “The Rs 10,000 crore to be spent on roads will benefit eight or nine per cent rich whose cars account for 60 per cent of the pollution, while public transport remains ignored. If you spend this on irrigation, it would probably stop thousands from migrating into Mumbai,” says D’monte, who believes that migrants entering Mumbai are not “pulled” by the city, but “pushed” out of the countryside.

Incidentally, Mumbai’s ongoing plastic surgery has also created strange political bedfellows. The Congress-NCP government has found an unlikely ally in the Shiv Sena. Among the political parties, only the Republican Party of India and the Left have voiced their opposition.

The real opposition on the ground has come from NGOs and social activists such as Narmada Bachao Andolan leader Medha Patkar and actor Shabana Azmi, president of the Nivara Hakk Suraksha Samiti. The NGOs want the Deshmukh government to stop demolitions and involve the slum-dwellers as a stakeholder in Mumbai’s proposed development plan. Says Shakeel Ahmed of the NGO, Nirbhay Bano Andolan, “You cannot have development policies only for the rich. We want the government to hold public hearings of the plan and involve the poor in the debate.”

Not everybody is considering such alternatives. South Mumbai Congress MP Milind Deora believes that the government needs to take a zero-tolerance policy towards further encroachment by implementing the Slum Encroachment Act, 2001 and punish anyone — politicians, slumlords, police, bureaucrats — who abet proliferation. “Otherwise, in 2015, you will be regularising slums to come up till 2010,” he says.

But as urban planner Chandrashekhar Prabhu points out, the cut-off deadlines become relevant only when there is a housing plan for the poor available in the formal sector. “Today, a slum-dweller has no option,” says Prabhu, a former member of the Slum Rehabilitation Authority.

Road ahead

The road to a Shanghai-ed Mumbai promises to be a rocky one. Funds and land are the two major worries of Deshmukh heading a cash-strapped government. His problems increased earlier this month when Congress president Sonia Gandhi told him that the party cannot renege on its election promise of regularising slums that have come up till 2000. Rehabilitation land would cost Rs 700 crore, house construction Rs 20,000 crore and Rs 4,000 crore would be required for creating infrastructure —in all, Rs 24,700 crore. But Deora is optimistic. “Once you demonstrate reforms and the will to implement them, money can be generated. The World Bank or even the Centre will give you funds when you show the reforms first,” he says.

Only, Jayashree Shinde doesn’t understand Mumbai’s macro-economics and the McKinsey Report. And she cannot comprehend that just across the mangroves and the marshes lying beyond her demolished house, the dragon of development has arrived.

Demolition DATA

• 41,900 hutments demolished between Dec. 2004 and Jan. 2005, NGO Yuva’s January survey says. Out of these 2,405 were built before 1995 and were legally authorised

• 247 police vehicles, 128 BMC vehicles and 87 bulldozers were used, says the same survey. A total of 3,989 BMC and police officials were deployed for the demolitions

• At least five per cent of Mumbai’s population lives on the roads. Around 2.5 million live in buildings officially labelled as dangerous

• Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) regional plan (1996-2011) says the city needs 85,000 housing units. There is a deficit of 45,000 units.

(With additional reporting by Avijit Ghosh in New Delhi)

February 25, 2005

India: Respect Rights of Slum Dwellers, Devise Resettlement Plan

Asian Center for the Progress of Peoples
1/F, 52 Princess Margaret Road, Kowloon, Hong Kong
Tel: (852) 2714 5123 Fax: (852) 2712 0152 E-mail: hotline@acpp.org Web: www.acpp.org
Respect Rights of Slum Dwellers, Devise Resettlement Plan - INDIA
25 February 2005

In a demolition drive that began on 8 December 2004 and
still continues, the Maharashtra government and the Brihan
Mumbai Corporation (a municipal government body)
demolished 70,000 huts, which they claimed illegal. In the
process, 306 acres of land were cleared, dislocating over
300,000 people and affecting thousands of others. People are
suffering in cold nights, children were exposed to health
hazards and school attendance in various areas nearby
dropped drastically.

On 8 February 2005, the Chief Minister of Maharashtra, Mr.
Vilasrao Deshmukh announced the plan to beautify Mumbai
into an international city like Shanghai - an ambitious plan
totalling 315 billion rupees (US$7.6 billion) for better roads,
public transport and removal of encroachment. This
contradicts the promise of the Congress Party in its election
manifesto in the recent assembly elections - to protect slums
built before 2000, a promise widely believed to have
garnered electoral support among Mumbai's poor.
Unless immediate steps are taken, slum dwellers will
continue to be exposed to cold nights and other physical
dangers. The government, instead of providing basic care to
its people, is planning to de-list them from the electoral rolls.
*** Please respond before 10 March 2005 ***

Action Requested
Please write polite letters condemning this demolition drive
in Mumbai and request the authorities to:
· Devise a proper resettlement plan before government
authorities begins further demolitions.
· Make urban development and rehabilitation plan more
people-friendly by involving cooperative societies and
local bodies in the Slum Rehabilitation Scheme of Slum
Rehabilitation Authority, and planning urban
development that will benefit the poor.

Send letters to:
Prime Minister of India Fax: (91) 11-2301 9545
Hon. Mammohan Singh (91) 11-2301 6857
South Block, Raisana Hill
New Delhi 110011, INDIA
Email: manmohan@sansad.nic.in OR pmosb@pmo.nic.in
Send Copies to:
1. Shri Vilasrao Deshmukh Fax: (91) 22-2363 3272
Chief Minister of Maharashtra
Vilasrao Deshmuk, 6th floor
Mantralaya, Mumbai 400 001, INDIA
2. The Chairman Fax: (91) 11-2338 4863
National Human Rights Commission
Faridkot House, Copernicus Marg,
New Delhi-110001, INDIA

3. Ms. Sonia Gandhi, Chairperson of the Congress Party
Email: soniagandhi@sansad.nic.in
4. Diplomatic representatives of India in your country
Sample Letter
Please avoid typing 'cc ACPP' at any part of your letter but
send copies to us separately for monitoring purpose.
Thank You for Your Continued Support

Lack of Proper Housing Policy in India
According to the Maharashtra State government data
quoted in Economic Political Weekly on 5 February 2005,
around 60 per cent of Mumbai's population live in slums;
73 per cent of its households live in one-room apartments
and 18 per cent in two-room structures.

There has been no standing policy to deal with housing for
the working class and the poor. A city of commerce and

We are shocked to learn about the recent demolition of slums
in Malad, Kurla, Mankhurd, Cuffe Parade, Chembur, Govandi
and other areas in Mumbai by the government of Maharashtra
and the Brihan Mumbai Corporation, in an attempt "to turn
Mumbai into Shanghai". It is believed to be one of the largest
demolition drives in the city, causing a lot of suffering for the
300,000 evicted, including children and the elderly.
We are aware that the action contradicts the promise that the
government made to its people for 'reforms with a human face'.
In October 2004, the Congress-NCP coalition secured a
majority of assembly seats in Mumbai on the promise that all
the pre-2000 slums in Mumbai would be protected and
regularised. However, after the election, Chief Minister of
Maharashtra, Shri Vilasrao Deshmukh of the Congress Party
has ordered the demolition of all post-1995 slums in the city.
It is sad that reports show the government of Maharashtra,
instead of taking immediate action to remedy the suffering,
plans to remove slum dwellers from the electoral rolls. Such
refusal to hear its people's voice, is an embarrassment and is
surely not pleasing to your Excellency.

May we also remind your good government's ratification to the
International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural
Rights in 1979, which states that "The States Parties to the
present Covenant recognize the right of everyone to an
adequate standard of living for himself, including housing."
(Art. 11)
In order to fulfill the promises and obligations, we request your
Excellency to intervene and ensure your State Chief Minister:
- devises a proper resettlement plan before civic body
begins further demolitions; and
- makes urban development and rehabilitation plan more
people-friendly, e.g. involving cooperative societies and
local bodies in the Slum Rehabilitation Scheme of Slum
Rehabilitation Authority and planning urban development
that will benefit the poor.

enterprise, Mumbai has always been a magnet for those
looking for work not only in Maharashtra but also from
other parts of India. Over time, vacant land has been
encroached, marshland has been reclaimed and the
homeless have occupied pavements, and empty strips
along railway lines and water pipes.

Instead of increasing affordable housing facilities in the
city, successive governments have resorted to piecemeal
solutions to the problem. The most popular one has been
setting a "cut-off" date - i.e. settlements built after the
"cut-off' date will not be entitled to alternative
accommodation. According to the Slum Redevelopment
Scheme (SRS) brought in by the Maharashtra Government
in 1998, those who can establish that their houses are set
up before the "cut-off" date are entitled to free alternative
accommodation if the land is re-developed by contracted
developers or used for other public purposes. It was
premised that slum dwellers had invested in developing
the land and the structures, thus they will be compensated
with "free" houses. However, often the slum dwellers
have to pay charges to the housing society once they
moved into the arranged accommodation. These housing
societies are registered entities under a societies
registration act, and comprise of households within a
single or multiple storey structure or a cluster of them.
Members of housing society are required to share the land
tax. Often, slum dwellers cannot afford this tax and are
forced to sell the premises and return to slums.

In addition, the cut-off date has been manipulated by the
present State Government in Maharashtra (Congress and
the Nationalist Congress Party). During pre-state election
period (August- September 2004), they promised that the
cut-off date would be extended up to 2000, but it was
instead hastily backtracked to January 1995 after election
victory in October 2004.

Lack of Empathetic Approach and Rehabilitation Plan
Demolitions were conducted in abrupt manner that cares
little for the settlers. In the past, the demolition squad
would come with sticks and axes and manually break
down structures. This gave the settlers time to save their
belongings. Recent demolitions, however, took place with
bulldozers and earthmovers appearing overnight, aided by
the police. Structures are flattened within few hours,
providing little time for settlers to save their belongings,
including papers that prove huts existed before the cut-off

Life of the evicted settlers was deeply affected since the
recent demolition drive in December 2004. Children's
health and education were badly affected. According to
Indian Express of 25 January 2005, civic schools near
demolition sites across Mumbai are witnessing a drop in
attendance, implying thousands of children failed to attend
formal education. Several children were recorded to have
died from pneumonia after suffering the cold nights, while
some experienced bad stomach and vomit due to
unhygienic food and water exposed under open area.

Adults were also affected: parents are afraid to go to work
and old people are suffering the cold nights without indoor

Instead of considering rehabilitation measures for the
affected, the government further attempted to disregard
slum dwellers' opinion. In an article dated 22 January
2005, State Home Minister of Maharashtra, Mr. R. R. Patil
was quoted: "When we launched the (demolition) drive,
we never thought of their rehabilitation. Legally speaking,
that is not the responsibility of the government."
According to a report in the Indian Express dated 11
February 2005, the Election Commission (EC) plans to
remove squatters from the electoral rolls. The EC has
reportedly asked the Brihan Mumbai Corporation to send
in a list of "illegal" slum dwellers, who have moved in
after the "cut-off" date or those who have no proof (e.g.
government ration card, electricity bills, bank accounts) of
residence prior to 1995. These people will be removed
from the electoral rolls. The Chief Electoral Officer Mr.
Madan told the media that according to the Representation
of Peoples Act 1950, voters' names could be deleted from
the electoral rolls if they cease to be residents of the city.

Current Situation

Since the demolition began over 300 acres of land have
been recovered, but the government has not announced
any future plan for these vacant lands. The civil society
criticized that such failure to develop lands is the exact
reason why these lands were encroached in the first place.
Local groups have been struggling with this battle without
much support in the last 2 months. Only recently, the
movement has started getting momentum with further
pressure from trade groups and political groups. Meetings
and protests were held at various locations across the city
to discuss the issue. However, the struggle goes on.

Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) leader Medha Patkar
and social activist, Vidya Chauhan were arrested on 12
February 2005, along with 120 others while protesting the
demolition of slums. On 21 February, Medha was
arrested again with 8 others and still being detained.
The demolition has stalled since 19 February 2005. Upon
the insistence of the Congress Party leader, Ms. Sonia
Gandhi, the cut-off date has been set at 2000, as promised
in the election manifesto. It is reported that talks on
rehabilitation of the evicted are being carried out.
Yours sincerely,
Linda Noche

Local newspapers: Indian Express, Times of India, The Hindu
Magazines: Economic Political Weekly, Outlook, Frontline
Websites: Infochange.com, NDTV, Rediff.com
For photos and interviews, please visit "Slum Bay- Found &
Lost" http://specials.rediff.com/news/2005/jan/14sld7.htm

Thank You for Your Continued Support
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February 21, 2005

Press Release - Zhopadi Bachao Sanyukt Kriti Samiti

Zhopadi Bachao Sanyukt Kriti Samiti
C/o Bhupesh Gupta Bhavan, Sayani Road, Prabhadevi, Mumbai-400025

Press Release: February 18, 2005

Decision to Legalise Slums Welcomed: Now Compensate

With the decision of the Government of Maharashtra to legalise the slums from
1995 to 2000, the struggle against the unjust demolition of 70,000 houses has
reached a new high.

We welcome this decision. This is a result of the strong resistance to the
demolitions and due to the direct intervention by Sonia Gandhi and Margaret
Alva, who gave a patient hearing to the poor unorganised sector workers along
with all the organisations involved in the struggle.
People thank all those Congress as well as NCP representatives who joined our
struggle and protested against the demolitions. However this should not have
happened, as this is a blatant violation of the pre - election promise given by the
present Government, leading to such a human-madeTsunami - like situation all
over Mumbai.

Keeping in mind the promise given during the election through its own manifesto,
it is the duty and responsibility of the government to compensate the affected
families for the damage to their houses, belongings and livelihood. With this
demand, all affected families affiliated to our movements will keep the
agitation going until our demands are met.

We strongly condemn the anti - poor and provocative pronouncements of the Shiv Sena,
which was supportive of the demolitions and against the destitutionalised Hindi and
Marathi speaking communities.

At the same time, we demand that the government should start a participatory,
people - oriented, just development planning process. It should also ensure
participation as well as their rightful share in the benefits of development.

We will continue our struggle for the alternative development, based on
decentralised and rural - focused development, alternative employment at the
village level to check the migration and equitable and just development by
linking the rural and urban poor.

Sanjay M. G. Raju Bhise Shakil Ahmad Medha Patkar