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Press release – Maharashtra CM Bowing to Builder Lobby, Ignoring Rights of Basti Dwellers

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Mumbai: 22nd December:  The day Mr. Devendra Fadnavis was appointed as the Chief Minister of Maharashtra, concerned citizens as well as politicians beyond party lines felt relieved to get a knowingly non-corrupt chief minister. This was based on his bright and active career as MLA in the assembly when he raised a number of scams and scandals based on CAG reports and otherwise. The secular forces and parties, in spite of having concern about the chief minister coming from RSS/Jansangh fold and family too vocalized expectations to have a rule of law. However, others did raise a question as to whether he would face the same problem and similar barriers as by Mr. Prithiviraj Chavan, former CM, who too was non-corrupt but encircled by many a corrupt minister. 

The statements made by new CM arouse serious questions, even if it’s granted that he has not got adequate time and the very first assembly is yet to be over. 

The first and the foremost, new CM visited the Slum Rehabilitation Authority (SRA) within the shortest time since his take over. He asked the officials and probably a few builders-developers as investors not whether law and rules are perfectly followed by them but rather expressed his concern about the projects left halfway and to give a push asked why they could not complete those? The builders, we came to know from reports, have already started visiting the CM. Former CM, Mr. Chavan was known to have kept them out but he too, under pressure and through biased bureaucrats, couldn’t bring out the full truth, through full enquiry. 

NAPM has disclosed, over last few years a number of frauds and irregularities in Mumbai’s projects such as 3k project at Golibar, Khar, however, the enquiry has not concluded the truth; and not only the project but people are kept hanging either at their original land or in the transit camps while a few hundreds are resettled but that too on the land belonging to the defense ministry. Will the CM have his own non-partisan, non-corrupt investigative team for Mumbai’s real estate projects hearing those (even if in minority at some places) who have questioned illegalities? 

The Lavasa, Adarsh and Hiranandani are the projects with frauds in land deals which have helped the politicians-bureaucrats nexus of investors earn crores but at the cost of the poor- Law income groups to middle class people in urban areas, farmers in the rural (western ghats) as well as the families of the martyrs. Will the new government go by the statements which have arisen to confuse the new leadership such as in the case of ‘Adarsh’ land? If there are documents to prove that the land was actually purchased by the owners of the flats or the society, has came there were not supplied to NAPM, when we reached all documents under RTI Act? Was the information provided fraudulent or the latest disclosure a backdated creation of proof ? Hiranandani case as well as Lavasa’s is before the Hon’ble High Court, however, the illegal construction and manipulations continue as the culprits wish to prove that ‘justice delayed is justice denied’. Will the new government show courage and confidence to take all corrupt politicians by horns? 

Housing of slum dwellers is an issue, deciding the fate of not just Mumbai but also the politicians and their party in this financial capital of India. Passing a notification, through legislatures, with all party support, the cut-off-date for slum protection got changed from 1995 to 2000, just before the Loksabha elections, however, there is no implementation thereafter. Rajiv Awas Yojna was on the banners of the former ruling party during election propaganda for Loksabha but the new government is quite about the same. Lakhs of poor people who build and clean houses, roads; produce and distribute goods and series, but have no secure place to live expect that the ruling parties don’t wait till the upcoming elections for MCGB but take a position on the RAY at the earliest. 

On education, Marathi schools have been neglected and grants went to the Education mafias not to Jeevansahalas in the Narmada valley and Health sector is left to the increasing extent, to private profiteers. Land acquisition Act of 1989 got changed towards inclusive developments, in 2013, only after long struggles by farmers to fishworkers in Maharashtra and all over. Will the new CM, with the legislations and hard earned labour laws too, we ask. 

Outside the legislature and beyond electoral politics, dialogue with people and people’s movements would not just help the new CM know the facts also provide solutions and alternatives provided the new team neither compromises nor enter into deals! 

Medha Patkar, Prerna Gaikwad, Poonam Kanujiya, Santosh Throat 

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