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With more Mumbai slumdwellers likely to be uprooted, protest rally in Andheri against government "plan"

By Our Representative
Uprooted slum-dwellers of Malvani, Mandala and Mankhurd area off Mumbai took out a rally in the city's suburb of Andheri to demand housing rights, which they alleged they were deprived of following “reckless demolition” by the Maharashtra government authorities. Andheri (West) is the next target the demolition drive, they declared.
Ghar Bachao Ghar Banao (GBGB), housing rights movement which led the protest, said, “Recently, homes of the people living in slums were brutally demolished citing various reasons and vague excuses. Thousands of people including senior citizens and children were rendered homeless overnight.”
“Still unsatisfied, the government is now planning demolition drives in Sidhartha Nagar, Chaar Bangla (Andheri West) where there is massive unrest among the people”, the GBGB statement says.
“Sometimes slums are demolished in the name of cut-off dates, sometimes citing forest land or sometimes encroachment but there is no procedure for alternative shelter or rehabilitation for the displaced”, the statement says.
“Grand promises are made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the name of Housing for all by 2022. If the government is serious about providing housing, then why has Maharashtra government declared January , 2000 as the cut off date which will decide the legality of the slums and shelters of the poor?”, the housing rights organization wonders.
“While slums are being razed in order to protect mangroves, the same spaces are being parceled to builders who are building complexes and multi-storeyed in these protected lands causing more environmental damage”, it points out.
“In a megapolis like Mumbai cost of livelihood is so high that a poor person cannot buy a house or even rent a decent house”, the statement points out, adding “Facing the brunt of unemployment in their respective states, many landless labourers and skilled artisans migrate to the city looking for a livelihood and are ready to work even for wages below the minimum rates.”
“After they set up small shacks in lands and make them habitable, they are uprooted and the lands are given off to builders”, the statement underlines.
Jamil Akhtar, a GBGB worker and a tailor by profession, speaking at the rally, said the government mentality is that “slum-dwellers are a burden on the city”, adding, “For every Rs. 250 of a minimum wage that a labourer is paid, the business owners earn a profit of Rs. 2,500-3,000.”
“Domestic workers from bastis take care of the homes and food of people who work in white collar jobs”, he said, adding, “How can their invaluable contribution to the society be denied?”
Girija Gupte and Mary from Jagruk Kamgar Manch said, “Politicians woo slum dwellers for their votes and later ruin their homes and livelihood.” Zubaida and Asha. The rally reached general body meeting in Sidharth Nagar in Andheri (West).
Putting up a list of demands, the GBGB has said, it wants the slumdwellers be given give legal rights at places they are based. The slum, it adds, should be give “the basic necessities like water, toilets, electricity, public distribution system facilities, primary schools and health centres, and withdraw the cut off date clause for demolishing the slums.”

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