|Demolition in Santa Cruz (East)|
Mumbai-based Ghar Bhachao Ghar Banao Andolan (GBGBA) has asked the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) to urgently intervene to ensure justice to the Dalit community, which has been “forcibly” evicted from the post East Santa Cruz (East) area.
Calling it as the “most inhuman act of the state”, GBGBA says, currently the Dalit community is forced to live on a pavement along the Western Express Highway toward Airport, opposite to Vakola Police Station. These families are living in portable housing units designed by NGO Billion Bricks.
Pointing out that this settlement was “brutally evicted by the Bombay Municipal Corporation on March 10 to ensure that a passing by minister from that road does not face this settlement”, GBGBA says, to hide the settlement, “authorities threw mud on the pavement and planted trees.”
Quoting an individual of the community, GBGBA says, “We were cooking our daily meal, when the BMC vehicles came. started breaking our tents and throwing mud and soil in our food. Almost all terts was broken. We ran to the highland situated nearby.’’
“We were asked to be in the highland near the community, and were told that after the government convoy passes by, we could again come back and settle down”, another individual is quoted as saying.
Pointing out that this settlement comprised of migrants from Jalna district of Marathwada region, who settled in the city years ago, but were never able to afford a formal housing, GBGBA says, “While the dreams and desires of children from privileged class have no limits, a small girl from this community says: I want to sleep once in a bed; will I ever get one?’’
In yet another instance, says GBGBA, the 10 year old settlement comprising at least 600 households called Sidhharth Nagar in Andheri West is under threat. While the demolition has been temporarily stopped because of the campaign on the pretext that children’s examinations were going on, it would face eviction, if there is no intervention.
Pointing out that such demolitions would cause harm to the “physical health of children and women”, GBGA cites a recent survey report conducted under the Integrated Child Development Services Scheme in Siddharthnagar, which highlights the need for additional nutrition supply to children in the area.
“Any denial of this service will add to their already pathetic life. A mother, whose house was demolished on March 22, says that her child is just 5 months old, and the eviction has caused extensive damage to the ration that she had collected over the week. Now, she has nothing to eat, nor money to buy supplementary food materials.
According to GBGBA, “A preliminary survey conducted by GBGBA has shown that the income of these households are irregular and so low that they cannot afford a formal housing and hence these people are forced to live in informal settlement.”
It adds, “Any eviction will render these families homeless forcing them to live under the sky as only shelter which can put their lives at risk especially of young ones and vulnerable to many infectious communicable diseases.”
Pointing out that there are several settlements like these in Mumbai which are under threat of eviction from various department of Maharashtra government for one or the reason, GBGBA says, “Despite guarantee of all fundamental rights including ‘right to life’ through Article 21 of the Indian Constitution to each citizen of India, we see it is being violated.”