February 14, 2005

Stop Further Demolitions - Press Note ZopadPatti Bachao Kriti Samiti


C/o Bhupesh Gupta Bhavan, Sayani Road, Prabhadevi, Mumbai-400025

Press Note/ 13.2. 2005


Hundreds of the evicted slumdwellers in Mumbai demanded the rulong Congress party that all the demolitions be stoppedc forthwith and the evicted people be allowed to resetle on the same land, and the state should provide food, shelter, clean water amnd compensation for the grave violation of human and democratic rights by the Maharashtra government, at the behest of the corporate powers. It called on the Congress party to stnad for the Œcommon people‚ as per its declared stance and restore, protect life and livelihoods of poor people.

Over five hundred representative men and women from over 15 hutment colonies and activists over 20 organizations comprising of the Zopadpatti Bachao Samyukta Kruti Samiti converged on front of the headquarters of Maharashtra State Congress Committee in Tilak Bhavan. Many women came with their children and many have left them behind to register their protest. Both the men and women had lost their livelihood and the older chidren and college-going youngsters had to face displacement and destitution when their examinations are nearing. Despite the destitution they have beewn facing for over two months, the people kept alive the fire to fight for their right to life. "We have no choice, but to fight for ourroght ti life. It seems that the Maharashtra government and the corporate and media elites care only for the rights of the rich people", said the agitated people. " The eviction of the hutment dwellers is a conspiracy against the Bahujan Samaj (the backward). We have brought these people to power; now they are serving the moneyed interests. We can drag them off the seat if power as well", announced the young Siddharth.

In the afternoon the Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Comittee Chief, Mrs. Prabha Rau invited a 10-member delegation for discussion. It seems that Mrs. Rau and other Congress leaders were hesitant to assure the instant stippage of the eviction or relief to the already evicted. It was curious that the former ministerm Hussain Dalwai was non-commital about stoping the demolitions and was beating around the bush. He also blamed the previous Sena dominated Mumbai Metopolitan Corporation for ordering the demolitions and police atrocities! Another former minister Kripa Shanker Singh was at least apologetic but equally non-commital. They however insisted that the demolitions is a complicated issue.

In the end Medha Patkar made it clear that the state government should not wait for three days to stop the demolitions, provide relief if shelter, food, clean water, medical service and stoping the police teror and atrocity. She demanded that the Congress Party should make it clear whether it envisages any place for the poor people in the city development plan. " We would be watching what stance Mrs. Margater Alva and other Congress leaders take in the Mumbai-Vision seminar, sponsored by the builders and corporate powers".

Earlier the day, the delegation of the Samyukta Kriti Samiti met the General Secretary of All India Congress Committee amd the party in-charge of Maharashtra affairs, Mrs. Margate Alva. They gave a detailed memorundum and asked her to restrain the Maharashtra government. They criticised the so-caled development plam for Maharashtra prepared by the multinational McKinsey company. They pointed out that there has been unprecedented violation of the human rights of over 35 million people, by razing over 80,000 huts. It had adversely affected the education of about 10 million people. The people have been living on the dust, dirt and garbage, deliberately filled in by the Corporation to make it difficult for ti re-occupy the cleared land. There were large scale police atrocities, and still they are being harassed by the police. They asked Mrs. Alva to make the Congress party to honour the assurance made in the pre-election manifesto. They demanded that ˆ

Stop the inhuman demolitions, withdeaw the police and private security forces, respect electoral promises amd give the rights ti the hutment dwellers upto 2000; rehabilitate the already evicted at the same place giving them the land right, paying the compensation upto Rs. 30,000 for the damages. Th organizations asked for strictly enforcing the urban land ceiling act and free over 2500 hectares lamd from capotalists; they demanded the imediate and unconditional withdeawal of the cases against the hutment dwelers and the activists. They also demanded that the city development plan should have the plan for the housing of the poor people and that "separate land for slums, poor, and marginalized people" It made clear that while planning for the Mumbai the vision of poor 60% of the people‚s livelihods, shelter should be priotected and be given top priority.

Vidya Chavan
Vitthal Ghag
Raju Bhise
Sanjay Shinde
Dhruv Rerdkar
Vilas Rohimal
Anand Kamble
Shakil Ahmed others