Skip to main content

Maharashtra govt "illegally" demolishing slums in protected mangrove area along Mumbai coasts: Medha Patkar

Mangroves overlooking Bhim Chhaya slum of Kammanwar Nagar
By Our Representative
Taking advantage of a High Court order, the Mangroves Cell of Maharashtra Forest Department, formed in 2012 to “conserve and replenish” mangroves, is allegedly seeking to demolish even slum dwellings, which are “protected” by the cut-off date – January 1, 2000 – set by the state government.
The Bombay High Court, on October 6, 2005, in an order on a PIL filed by the Bombay Environment and Action Group, had said that all the mangrove areas and the land within a distance of 50 meters from mangrove areas be declared as ‘protected forests’ (government lands) and ‘forests’ (private lands).
Well-known social activist Medha Patkar, who is fighting for the slum-dwellers’ land, has contended that the cell is seeking to demolish even those shanties, which came into being more than five years prior to the cut off date, seeking to make the entire area free of any humans.
This, she believes, is against provisions of the Indian Forest Act, 1927, under which the land having the status of ‘protected forests’ for a maximum period of 30 years can have certain amount of human interference, which is not possible for land designated as ‘reserved forests’.
“In other words, in case of ‘protected forests’, every activity, except those specifically prohibited, is permitted, while in ‘reserved forests’, every activity except those that are permitted, are prohibited”, the top activist says a statement.
“Before declaring any land as ‘reserved forest’, it is the duty of the Forest Settlement Officer to settle the rights of the people who have been occupying that land”, the activist, who heads the National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM), the apex body of several mass organizations, says.
She says, “Ensuring the prima facie legality of the rights claimed by the occupants of that land, the Forest Settlement Officer can exempt that part of the land, on which the rights are claimed, from being declared as ‘reserved forests’ and take over the rest of the land as per the Land Acquisition Act.”
Yet, Patkar says, “the Mangrove Cell is hell bent on evicting the people on land notified as ‘reserved forests’. This hasty action of demolishing the slums by the cell is depriving people of their housing rights.”
She adds, referring to the recent eviction of the whole slum at Malvani, a senior cell official, when asked, “shamefully admitted” that, once in action, they cannot distinguish between old and the new houses, or those lying perfectly on the boundaries of the forest and outside.”
Comments Patkar, “This indicates that they are incapable of locating the notified regions on the ground from the maps. It shows the political expediency and callous attitude of the cell towards the poor, toiling masses and their rights”, adding, “Several thousand slum dwellers are under threat of eviction.”
While 2,500 were demolished in Navi Mumbai as these were on a 36-sq-km range of the mangrove cover, and another 600 were demolished in Malvani, Malad, “more slums in Kannamwar Nagar, Cheetah Camp, Colaba are under threat”, she says.
Meanwhile, recently, the NGO taking up slum dwellers’ rights, Ghar Bachao Ghar Banao Andolan, recently submitted a report to the Collector, Mumbai Suburban District, who is the chairman of the District Coastal Zone Monitoring Committee, specifying new concrete structures have come up in the mangrove areas.
This, Patkar says, exposes the state government’s “callous and biased attitude towards the poor”, adding, it suggests, the government is showering chunks of land to celebrities and for cow shelters, but it considers the poor of the city too insignificant to get any land for housing.”

Comments

TRENDING

Amit Shah 'wrong': Lack of transparency characterized bank frauds, NPAs, jobs data

Counterview Desk
India's senior RTI activists Nikhil Dey, Anjali Bhardwaj, Venktesh Nayak, Rakesh Reddy Dubbudu, Dr. Shaikh Ghulam Rasool, Pankti Jog and Pradip Pradhan, who are attached with the National Campaign for Peoples' Right to Information (NCPRI), have said that Union home minister Amit Shah's claim that the Government of India is committed to transparency stands in sharp contrast to its actual actions.

Untold story of Jammu: Business 'down', students fear lynching, teachers can't speak

By Rajiv Shah
A just-released report, seeking to debunk the view that people in Jammu, the second biggest city of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) after Srinagar, people had gone “out celebrating” abrogation of Article 370 which took away the state’s special status, has reported what it calls “abominably high levels of fear” across all sections in the town.

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).

Kashmiris in a civil disobedience mode, are going against 'diktat' to open shops

Counterview Desk
A team of concerned citizens, including Ludhiana-based psychiatrist and writer Anirudh Kala, Mumbai-based activist and public health professional Brinelle Dsouza, Delhi-based journalist and writer Revati Laul, and social activist Shabnam Hashmi, travelled to Kashmir and Jammu to understand the impact of the abrogation of Article 370 and the subsequent security clampdown and communication blockade on the lives of the people of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K).

Success of 'political' Hinduism: Kashmiris being depicted as antagonists of rest of India

By Anand K Sahay*
There are times in history when facts call attention to themselves; they assert their independence in all its amplitude and are in no need of the crutch of interpretation. Such a moment is visible in Kashmir now. Merely by being on the table, the facts there taunt the regime’s proclamations.

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…