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#Mumbai -Why is Medha Patkar on Indefinite #HungerStrike since April 4th, 2013 at Golibar #mustshare

The Golibar , Demolitions, Indefinite Hunger Strike by Medha Patkar
from April 4, 2013 at Golibar, Mumbai.

medha

What’s the big issue?

The corruption and nexus between the Government and Builders under the
cover of the Slum Rehabilitation Authority (SRA) in , that has
led to lakhs of slum-dwellers struggling for the basic right to a
house. The most recent example is collapse of a 8 storey building in
Mumbra, constructed within a span of 2-3 months leading to death of
more than 70 people.

What’s wrong with SRA?

SRA authorises private builders to redevelop slum land. The
slum-dwellers are moved into vertical establishments, and the land
that is thus freed up, becomes available as a free-sale component in
the property market. Privatisation also means that the government is
not responsible for maintaining transparency and quality. Since the
money to be made from new land sales in Mumbai is extremely high,
there is a vicious competition amongst the builders to woo the slum
residents.

Moreover, SRA only authorises a house to those people who can show
their citizenship until 1995. It also gives the power of go-ahead to
the Builder if they can attain approval of 70% of the people in a
society. These 2 facts are exploited by the Builders to practise
extortion, fraud and forgery at the ground level, and have become the
common practise to lure societies into signing a deal with them.

A date based cut-off to the Right to a House, and limited
participation of a government agency, have made the SRA into a
pro-Builder scheme. This needs to be rectified.

But why redevelop slums? Aren’t they illegal in the first place?

Today 60% of the population of Mumbai lives in slums. Those recognised
under SRA have paid Assessment Tax to the government. The people
living here comprise the major part of the people working in the
service industry and small-scale industries. Slums are not a result of
squatting, but instead because of a lack of low-cost housing options.
This big gap in housing development has left only very high-cost
options that the poorer people cannot afford.

So is SRA the only scheme for redevelopment?

It is the most prominent one in place to resettle slums. Others look
into Project Affected People (PAP) – people forced to move because of
development of Highways, high-tech parks etc. For settlements that
came into being after the cut-off date of 1995, there are currently no
schemes at all.

Why now? What’s the urgency?

This is not a recent struggle. People of the slums have been fighting
for their rights since 2004, when vast areas of slums in Mumbai were
razed to the ground by the Vilasrao Deshmukh government to convert
Mumbai to Shanghai. The Adarsh Housing Scam, Hiranandani Developers
Land grab are examples of the extent to which a handful of powerful
people are robbing the common man of a basic right to shelter.

Another such instance is the history of ‘redevelopment’ in Khar
Golibar, wherein 140 acres of land- home to 46 societies and over
26,000 families – has been literally gifted to a single private
company – Shivalik Ventures, by invoking a special clause – 3K- of the
SRA. This clause gives a single builder complete rights to redevelop a
large slum without inviting tenders.

A small society of 323 houses in Golibar – Ganesh Krupa – has become
the flash point for the struggle between the SRA/Builder nexus and the
Slum dwellers, ever since it slapped a case of fraud and forgery on
Shivalik Ventures, the builder that forcefully undertook the rights to
their development. 6 forced drives over the past 1 year led
to the society appealing to Medhatai Patkar and ‘Ghar Bachao Ghar
Banao’ for help.

She undertook a 9 day hunger strike in May 2011, which resulted in
formation of two committees to look in to the irregularities and
corruption in SRA schemes and another to look in to regularisation on
slums. However, none of these committees were made functional under
pressure from builder lobby.

Once again, when the whole world was celebrating the beginning of a
new year, working class of Mumbai dwelling in bastis marched for two
days to continue their camp in Azad Maidan for ten days which resulted
in another investigation committee under Principal Secretary, Housing,
Government of to look in corruption and irregularities. It
was also said that no evictions and demolitions would be undertaken
while the investigations are on, but on April 2 – 3rd, in presence of
hundreds of policemen and bouncers of Shivalik builders, demolitions
were carried on in Ganesh Krupa Housing Society.

On April 2nd even Union Minister for Housing and Poverty Alleviation
Ministry, Mr. Ajay Maken wrote a detailed letter, asking Maharashtra
government to not go ahead with demolitions but even then 43 houses
were demolished. Why, when the Ministry of Environment and Forest
ordered demolition of Adarsh Housing Society, over illegalities even
then it stands tall on Mumbai’s coast, working class of Mumbai asks ?

CM Shri Prithviraj Chauhan on several occasions assured Medhatai
Patkar and Andolan of an inquiry into the matter of Golibar
demolitions, and the larger issue of redevelopment of slums in Mumbai,
no action has been taken over. This has forced Medhatai to go on an
indefinite fast to get justice once again, within a span of two years.

What’s the history of Ganesh Krupa Society?

The slum housing the Ganesh Krupa Society consists of 324 tenements.
The slum was declared in 1997 and the rehabilitation scheme was
approved in favour of M/s Madhu Construction Company, to which the
slum dwellers were amenable. The Slum Rehabilitation Authority had
issued a Letter of Intent bearing No. SRAIENG/819/HE/PULOI dated 3rd
October 2004 in favour of Madhu Constructions, however due to
financial constraints and pressure from big companies, Madhu
Constructions could not undertake the project and hence entered into a
Joint Venture Agreement with Shivalik Ventures Pvt. Ltd. on 3rd March
2008, without the knowledge of the slum dwellers. Thereafter Shivalik
Ventures indulged in forging documents to procure the Letter of Intent
bearing No. SRA/ENG/1188/HE/ML/LOI dated 20th August 2009. The crucial
resolution dated 7th February 2009 of the Society approving of and
giving consent to the company to carry out the development itself has
been fabricated by Shivalik Ventures, in respect of which criminal
proceedings initiated by the slum dwellers are pending. However,
relying on the fraudulent document and consequential actions Shivalik
has succeeded in obtaining favourable orders from the Courts and began
forcible and illegal demolition of houses in the slum. While 167
families have voluntarily shifted, but 48 houses were demolished in
January 2011, and on 19th and 20th May 2011, 24 houses in total were
demolished, and 43 houses on April 2-3, 2013..

The slum dwellers have already initiated criminal action in regard to
the fraudulent document purported to be the General Body Resolution
dated 7th February 2009 and can always avail of the necessary civil
remedies available to them, there is one another important aspect that
is of mammoth proportions and consequences, and this being the link of
this, and other projects of Shivalik Ventures, to the 2G scam.

Who is Shivalik Ventures?

Unitech owns 50% of shares of Shivalik Ventures Pvt. Ltd. even as per
its own website and Annual Report 2009-10 (page 52). The Annual Report
2009-10 of Unitech further provides under the heading “Capital
Commitment” that:

“Investment in 10,00,000 equity shares of Rs. 10 each at a premium of
Rs. 9990/-per share aggregating of Rs. 1000 crore has been made in
joint venture company, Shivalik Ventures Pvt. Ltd. An Amount of Rs.
442.77 crore has been paid against the allotment of fully paid-up
shares. The balance securities premium of Rs.557.23 crores will be
accounted for on payment.”

As pointed above, Shivalik Ventures, in turn, has entered into an
agreement of Joint Venture on 2nd March 2008 with M/s Madhu
Construction Company to jointly develop Ganesh Krupa slum at Golibar.

It is important to highlight the period during which Unitech has
entered into re-development of slums in Mumbai since it corresponds to
the period during which it illegally secured thousands of crores in
the 2G scam. The Director of Unitech has been included in the charge
sheet filed by CBI and has been under arrest since then. And as per
the CAG report, Unitech after availing the Spectrum licence in
September – October 2008 for Rs 1658 crores subsequently sold it off
to Telenor company at the rate of Rs 6120 crores. According to CBI,
Unitech was alloted Unified Access Service licenses in 22 circles for
Rs.1,658 crores, 60% of which it offloaded to Norway’s Telenor even
before roll-out.

We are apprehensive that this illegal gratification enjoyed by the
Company has been diverted and invested in its 50% equity at the
Shivalik Ventures Pvt. Ltd. and the same is being channeled into the
developmental projects of Shivalik Ventures including the slum
projects in Golibar.

Why is Medha Tai Patkar on an indefinite fast again ?

Previous attempts to initiate corrective action from the government’s
side have met with no success. Along with Medhatai, a large delegation
of 10,000 strong from different slums in Mumbai had even marched to
Azad Maidan in January to raise the issue of redevelopment. Despite
this, the police and builders men entered Ganesh Krupa with impunity
and razed it to the ground with a bulldozer. An indefinite fast is now
the only alternative left. These are the demands:

Right to Housing
HALT evictions and demolitions until the investigations by Principal
Secretary, Housing Mr. Debashish Chakravarty is completed.
Slum Rehabilitation Authority Scheme projects in Mumbai are full of
flaws, frauds and corruption leading to atrocities against the slum
dwellers. Thousands are made shelterless and sent on rent which is
discontinued and others decay in transit camps for years.
Hence, Revoke 3k clause and thus cancel the agreements between
builders and SRA for the 6 projects where 3k has been applied.
including Shivalik – a part of 2G spectrum scam.
Review SRA scheme itself and modify it to allow Self-development as an option.
Revive the two Independent Enquiry Committees which had members from
civil society as well and were formed in May 2011 to investigate SRA
projects where conflict and protest has arisen between the people and
authorities.
Implement Rajiv Aawas Yojna across the slums in Mumbai, which promises
a house to everyone without one, irrespective of a cut off date
through the model of self development.
Implement Slum Act and declare unauthorised colonies as ‘Slums’ to
carry on slum improvement with basic amenities.
After revoking Urban Land Ceiling Act, 30,000 Acres land should have
become available, which can still be acquired by State Government and
distributed amongst urban poor and middle class cooperative societies
for housing.
No development plan should be without the free prior consent of the
Basti Sabha. Bring amendments or a new legislation to incorporate this
provision in the Nagar Raj Act.

Services to Urban Poor
Revoke all cut off dates in any existing policy or act for supply of
water, right to water is a fundamental right of everyone, as of now
the cut off date is year 1995.
Sanitation, electricity, and roads should be made available to all BPL
families at a priority basis.
Have a meeting with the Secretary, Minister, Controller and the Right
to Food State Adviser to implement the universal PDS with efficiency,
and without corruption.

What can you do?

Join in large numbers at the dharna sthal in Golibar (nearest station
is Khar Road, Santacruz on Western line) stand in support of the
movement, spread the word to the wider public, media, and/or, cover
the story yourself.

You must also write to them to address this injustice and the way
lives of working class people are being put at stake in Mumbai and
their rights to housing denied.

1.

Shri Prithviraj Chavan,

Chief Minister,

Government of Maharashtra,

Mantrayala, Mumbai

Ph: 022-23634950

E-mail: [email protected],

[email protected]
Shri Debashish Chakrabarty,

Principal Secretary, Housing,

Government of Maharashtra,

Mantrayala, Mumbai

Ph: 022-22023036

E-mail: [email protected]

2.Sh.

Union Minister of Housing & Urban Poverty Alleviation

Phone :011 – 23061928 / 42/ 23063989 Fax : 23061780

email :[email protected]

3. Justice K G Balakrishnan

Chaiperson, National Human Rights Commission Delhi.

Fax 91-11-23384012

email : [email protected], [email protected]

4. Prof. Shantha Sinha, Chairperson

National Commission for Protection of Child Rights

23731583
23731584 (Fax), [email protected]

5. Smt. Sonia Gandhi
10, Janpath, New Delhi.
Tel. (O) : 23792263, 23019080
Tel. (R) : 23014161, 23014481
Fax : 23018651

email : [email protected]

6. Sushma Swaraj, Leader of Oppsition

Ambala Cantt.(Haryana)
01123794344, 9868181930
[email protected]

7. Dr. Manmohan Singh, Prime Minister of India

South Block, Raisina Hill, New Delhi. India-110011.

Telephone: 91-11-23012312. Fax: 91-11-23019545 / 91-11-23016857.

email : [email protected]

 

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