Skip to main content

Gujarat slum policy in action: No toilet, water, power, ration card, voter ID card to Valmiki slumdwellers

The slumdwellers named it Bapa Sitaram Kamdar Nagar
By Our Representative
While Gujarat government put in place what it called a “policy for in-situ rehabilitation of slums situated on public land” through a government resolution (GR) on July 18, 2013, latest indications from Ahmedabad reveal that it remains on paper for large sections of slum-dwellers for one-and-a-half years after it was promulgated by the state urban development department. In a glaring instance, as many as 69 Valmiki Dalit households, living in makeshift accommodations for nearly 15 years in the midst of posh Jodhpur area of western Ahmedabad, have been threatened that either they clear the area, or they would forcibly removed, the cost of which would be charged from them.
The slum-dwellers, who have named their slum as Bapa Sitaram Kamdar Nagar, told Counterview, this is not for the first time they were threatened. “At least thrice they demolished our huts, but following intervention by a voluntary organization, we were able to stay put here”, said a resident. Yet, their main woe is, they are living without power, water, toilet public or private, no ration card, not even voter ID card. Though they form part of the “policy for in-situ rehabilitation” GR, as they life on a public land, it hasn’t been implemented for them.
Official papers with the slum-dwellers suggest the type of public land they live on, which enables them to take advantage of the in-situ slum rehabilitation policy. A notice they received from the assistant estate officer, New Western Zone, Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) says that they are living on Town Planning scheme No 4 (Vejaplur), Plot No 185, owned by the AMC, but it adds, the plot has been kept aside for “sale for residential purpose”, one reason why they should clear it. One of the notices to a resident, Vinodbhai Karsanbhai Vaghela, asks him to vacate as he lives “without any authorization.”
Notice to a slum-dweller suggesting it is public land
Declared when Prime Minister Narendra Modi was Gujarat chief minister, the “policy for in-situ rehabilitation” GR states that the Gujarat government aims at according “priority” to rehabilitate slum dweller families in-situ by providing “houses of minimum 25 sq metres”. The most important qualification is, the slums should be “situated on public land in urban areas of the state”, the GR says, adding, each family would be given a pucca house “with basic amenities having two rooms, kitchen, bath room and latrine.”
While promising to set up a “prescribed authority” consisting of government officials to look into in-situ rehabilitation, the GR says, the policy would be particularly implemented for any area which is “a source of danger to the health, safety or morals of the inhabitants or its neighborhood”, or is “low-lying, insanitary, squalid and overcrowded”. Defining “public land”, it says, this includes “government land, land released under urban land ceiling Act, land owned by urban local bodies, urban area development authorities, public boards, undertakings and public authorities.”
While the policy GR says that the in-situ scheme would be implemented for notified slums, it underlines, “The prescribed authority can notify any area in an urban area occupied by slum dwellers as a slum area and further as a ‘slum rehabilitation scheme’ for the purpose of rehabilitation of that slum” in accordance with a 2010 law enacted for slum rehabilitation. The only criterion is, the slum dwellers’ families that should be living in slums “on or before December 1, 2010.”
Hosla Prasad Mishra of the Kamdar Swasthya Suraksha Mandal (KSSM), an NGO working among the Valmikis, told Counterview that a major reason why the slumdwellers of Jodhpur area were sought to be removed is “there is increasing pressure from the builder lobby on AMC officialdom to clear it for constructing a residential-cum-commercial complex.” He added, “The flats being built in the vicinity of the slums cost Rs 1 crore each… The elite in the area are clearly uncomfortable with the very idea of in-situ rehabilitation in the area.”
A visit to the slum area suggests that even the big hype of building toilets for every household has not touched the slum. “BJP people came to us for recent membership drive. But nobody tells us whether they will provide us with toilets. We are not only without toilets or water, there is no power, no sanitation. We are only threatened to be removed from here. We don’t even have ration cards or voter ID cards, though recently we given bank accounts under the Jan Dhan project”, said Babarbhai Manibhai Waghela, a slum resident.
Taken for a Modi-sponsored gharib kalyan mela in Ahmedabad a couple of years ago, the residents complained, they were promised houses at the Modi fete for the poor, but those promises were never unfulfilled. “How can our children study in a situation like this? There is no basic facility. Provide us with shelter, preferably in this area only, and we can progress”, said a slum-dweller, adding, “Currently, rich people around castigate us for being dirty, and want us removed. Of course we are dirty, but they must remember: We don’t have any water supply, no toilet, we have to go out in the open for defecation, and hunt for water in the nearby areas…”

Comments

Anonymous said…
In Vadodara Vangariawar in TPS 18 East of Mnjalpur is the oldest Slum during the times of Maharaj Gaikwad > this is now on the PTP plot reseved for Health Purposes, Finaliged in 1992 with Gazatte notifications. But till 2014 the VMC Vadodara have not taken posession of this plot nor constructed houses for EWS people.In 25 Years the TPS 18 plots of East of Manjaalpur not taken by te VMC. Reason best known to all. where BJP and Congress politicians of Vadodara are responsible. Now they are demolitioning houses of poor peoples against Slum policy of Gujarat State from 1999 submitted in Hon. Gujarat high Court in SCA # 3426 of 1998 Orders dated 5,9,2000 PUCL Vs States and others..

TRENDING

132 Gujarat citizens, including IIM-A faculty, others declare solidarity with Kashmiris

Counterview Desk
A week after it was floated, 132 activists, academics, students, artists and other concerned citizens of Gujarat, backed by 118 living in different parts of India and the world, have signed a "solidarity letter" supporting the people of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), who, it claims, have been silenced and held captive in their own land. The signatories include faculty members and scholars of the prestigious Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad (IIM-A).

Bharat Ratna nominee ‘joined hands’ with British masters to 'crush' Quit India

By Shamsul Islam*
The Quit India Movement (QIM), also known as ‘August Kranti' (August Revolution), was a nation-wide Civil Disobedience Movement for which a call was given on August 7, 1942 by the Bombay session of the All-India Congress Committee. It was to begin on August 9 as per Gandhi's call to 'Do or Die' in his Quit India speech delivered in Bombay at the Gowalia Tank Maidan on August 8. Since then August 9 is celebrated as August Kranti Divas.

Gujarat's incomplete canals: Narmada dam filled up, yet benefits 'won't reach' farmers

By Our Representative
Even as the Gujarat government is making all out efforts to fill up the Sardar Sarovar dam on Narmada river up to the full reservoir level (FRL), a senior farmer rights leader has said the huge reservoir, as of today, remains a “mirage for the farmers of Gujarat”.
In a statement, Sagar Rabari of the Khedut Ekta Manch (KEM), has said that though the dam’s reservoir is being filled up, the canal network remains complete. Quoting latest government figures, he says, meanwhile, the command area of the dam has been reduced from 18,45,000 hectares (ha) to 17,92,000 ha.
“According to the website of the Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Ltd, which was last updated on Friday, while the main canal, of 458 km long, has been completed, 144 km of ranch canals out of the proposed length of 2731 km remain incomplete.
Then, as against the targeted 4,569 km distributaries, 4,347 km have been constructed, suggesting work for 222 km is still pending. And of the 15,670 km of minor canal…

Ceramic worker dies: 20,000 workers in Thangadh, Gujarat, 'risk' deadly silicosis

By Our Representative
Even as the country was busy preparing for the Janmashtami festival on Saturday, Hareshbhai, a 46-year-old ceramic worker from suffering from the fatal lung disease silicosis, passed away. He worked in a ceramic unit in Thangadh in Surendranagar district of Gujarat from 2000 to 2016.
Hareshbhai was diagnosed with the disease by the GCS Medical College, Naroda Road, Ahmedabad in 2014. He was found to be suffering from progressive massive fibrosis. He is left behind by his wife Rekha sister and two sons Deepak (18) and Umesh (12),
The death of Hareshbhai, says Jagdish Patel of the health rights group Peoples Training and Research Centre (PTRC), suggests that silicosis, an occupational disease, can be prevented but not cured, and the Factory Act has sufficient provisions to prevent this.
According to Patel, the pottery industry in the industrial town of Thangadh has evolved for a long time and locals as well as migrant workers are employed here. There are abou…

Cess for Gujarat construction workers: Spending less than 10%; no 'direct help' to beneficiaries

By Our Representative
While the Gujarat government’s Building and Other Construction Workers Welfare Board, set up in 2004, as of March 31, 2019, has collected a total cess of Rs 2,097.62 crore from the the builders, it has spent less than 10% -- Rs 197.17 crore. And, as on May 31, 2019, the total cess collection has reached Rs 2,583.16 crore, said a statement issued by Bandhkam Majur Sagathan general secretary Vipul Pandya.
Pointing out that just about 6.5 lakh out of 20 lakh workers have been registered under the board, Pandya said, vis-à-vis other states, Gujarat ranks No 13th in the amount spent on the welfare of the construction workers, while 11th in the amount collected.
And while the builders are obliged to pay just about 1% of the total cost of their project, the calculation of the cess is flawed: It is Rs 3,000 per square yard; accordingly, Rs 30 per square yard is collected. “Had the cess been collected on the real construction cost, it would have been at least Rs 7,000 cr…