Haji Habib building, Naigaon Cross Road, Dadar, Mumbai

Press Note | 15.06.2011

  • Honor commitments to democratic struggles in Golibar

  • Stop criminalisation of slums arising out of SRA Schemes

  • Provide adequate and affordable housing for poor and lower middle class in the city

Mumbai, the financial captial has more than 60% of the population living in just 6-8% of the land. The vast working class, lower middle class and the informal sector workers live in unhygenic conditions without proper housing, infrastructure and basic services. The conditions of live inspite of decades of independence and a growing growth story is in violation of all constitutional rights and in violation of national and international guidelines, conventions and policies.

The government on its place has over the period withdrawn from the role of provider to that of a facilitator. The common issues that comes up is that of lack of finance, lack of human resources and lack of land. The basic issues of wrong policies and priorities of the government is not thought of. The Constitution of the country and the UN Conventions which our country is a signatory to, give right of housing to every one with basic services and physical and social infrastructure. The question is about

policies and schemes which should make housing not only affordable but also provides for a degree of equity to all sections of society.

The equity should begin with distribution of land and this is not possible with 60% of population having just 6-8% of the land in the city. This trend of accumation of land in the hands of a few should be reversed. Not an inch of land should be taken away from population who are already pocessing less land but make more land available for vulnerable and urban poor populations. The land which the government has taken under the Urban Land Celing Act (ULCRA) which is undistributed should be immediatly be given to co-operative socieites of vulnerable sections and lower middle class families.

The land which has been given on leases to the rich and powerful who are enjoying vast tract of leased land at prices ranging frrom Rs One to Two hundred should immedialty be revised and given according to the prevailing market prices. The increase in the revenue to the government so accured should be made use in terms of social housing and mass housing schemes for urban poor and lower middle class of this city.

The open spaces of land which exists in the city should be protected and not be diverted to rich and powerful. The health and environment of the city should be preserved and developed.

The basic focus of the government should be improvement of the slums through participatory schemes which provides of basic infrastructure and services in the community. This should be done through giving rights over land and housing through acceptable procedures. The renewal if any should release land for accomodating the natural growth of the population and other communities which are equally dispocessed and deprived. The overall distribution of the land should not be skewed again by taking land from the poor for building of the rich.

The unregulated real estitation of land has taken a toll on not just the urban poor but also the lower and middle class who are being equally cheated of a proper dwelling place to live with dignity. The grabbing of land in persuit of windfall profits to builders have resulted in vast sections of population falling out of the dignity of a house to live with. The SRA policy has resulted in mafialisation of the society and polity with diffent gangs operating with the builders to coherse ‘consent’ and ensure people do not protest against illegal and corrupt practices. This is resulting in a pool of recuits to big gangs and is resulting in a dangerous criminalisation of the society.

An alternate approch to the present focus should bring back the control of housing back to the communtiy from builders. Various attempts and approches of self development should be given clearences with adequate finances made available from the state. A basket of options should be avilable with the urban poor including confering property rights including the right to land, Cooperative housing, distribution of surplus land etc. The finances available with the central and state government in various schemes like the Rajiv Awas Yojana (RAY) which does not distingush between formal and informal settlements and asserts inclusion as the basic policy should be appropriatly used with changes so that no cut off dates exists leading to exclusion of populations in redevlopment.

The government need to respond to the proposal given by NAPM on providing of affordable housing to city. This includes a variety of housing options which include dormatories, rental accomdation, coopeative houising, etc. The exclusion and deprivation will result in more and more people getting dispocessed with demolitions and forced eviction.

The nexus between the politician – beauracratic – builder nexus has resulted in criminal and land mafia getting rooted in cities society and polity. The attack on activist Sandeep Yavle and Ashok Bhansode in Ramnagar, Ghatkhopar is very evident example of this nexus and the extend to which they will go in taking over the democratic politics of this city. Mr. Yavle was attacked in his office with a murderous intention as he was accessing details through RTI. The attack was also an immediate fall out of the decision to check the fogery and corruption of various SRA projects after the hunger strike for 9 days by Ms Medha tai Patkar at Golibhar.

We condemn the attack on Mr. Sandeep Yavle and others at Ramnagar and want the government to honor to agreement arrived on 28th May at Golibar including the civil society inspection of the SRA projects, declaration of 19 settlements as slums under the slum act, consultation on RAY with urbanpoor and civil society groups in the presence of central government officials.

We warn te government against letting criminal elements gain upper hand in real estate and in society and polity undermining the democratic essence of the country. The fight for adequate housing and equitable share in land in the city is a fight for democratication and against criminalisation of the society.

Medha Patkar Sumit Wajale Mohan Chavan Prerna Gaikwad

NAPM, Ghar Bachao Ghar Banao Andolan, Apnalaya, YUVA, Vande Matram, ICHRLN,

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