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1500 Mumbai slum houses "cleared" for luxury hotel's approach road, mangroves removed: Fact-finding team

Electricity meters, public toilets not spared in demolition
By Our Representative
A fact-finding team consisting of scholars from prominent Mumbai-based institutes has suggested that insistence on an “approach road” for a proposed luxury hotel being constructed by prominent builders could be the main reason behind the recent demolition of nearly 1,500 slum-dwellers’ houses in the in Ambedkar Nagar basti at Cuffe Parade, Colaba.
Quoting locals, and based on circumstantial evidence, the team’s report, says, it found how the local corporator, BJP’s Makarand Narvekar remained apathetic” towards the demolition, which took place from May 3 to 7.
He refused to give any “assistance or support” though he “campaigned excessively in Ambedkar Nagar for people’s votes prior to the 2017 Bombay Municipal Corporation polls”, the report states, adding, “Likewise, no help has come forth from the MLA who is from BJP and the MP who comes from Shiv Sena.”
Mangroves removed near Essel World in the area
“In November 2013, a massive fire gutted around 900 homes. While the official cause of fire was claimed to be gas cylinder blasts, a newspaper reported the claims of locals and politicians that the fire could have been sabotage as talks were on with two developers for a slum rehabilitation scheme on the site”, the report says.
Pointing out that the Bombay High Court order against destruction of mangroves was the pretext used against slum dwellers in order to provide the “exemption” to private builders, the report says, “The demolitions began on May 3 morning under the supervision of forest department officials and in presence of more than 100 police personnel.”
“People shared with us details of how, before the demolition began, trees were cut and debris were filled into the swamp under government supervision to make an access road for the bulldozers”, it underlines.
A woman beaten up during the drive
Calling the demolition “prima facie illegal” with “no adequate notice”, the report by the team – which called itself Committee for Protection of Democratic Rights (CPDR) – saus, “Undue excessive force was deployed to carry out the demolitions”, rendering “thousands homeless”, affecting “access to education of the children.”
Scholars from Nirmala Niketan College of Social Work, Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Homi Bhabha Centre for Science Education and Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay, formed part of the team, which visited the site on May 10.
According to the report, “Police dealt with excessive force against the people. People were at the receiving end of police abuse in the form of verbal abuse, beating, slapping, lathi charge, pulling of hair etc”, adding, they were “were picked up and taken to the police chowki near Mantralaya, Churchgate”, and the “mobile phones of those who were recording the scene were confiscated.”
Calling the demolition “arbitrary”, the report says, “The bulldozers paid no heed to the demarcation during the demolition, thus escalating the amount of destruction. Public and collective facilities like water taps, public bathrooms, places of worship, shops and even the aanganwadi structure were razed down.”
Demolished houses
Pointing towards the “collective economic loss” to the residents, the report says, “None of them were allowed to remove any of their belonging from within their homes. Hundreds of families are now being forced to live out in the open with little to no protection.”
The report recalls, most of the houses were officially supplied with electricity connections, and area had communal tap water connections and public toilet facilities, adding, “The provision of various basic amenities to people by government agencies was perceived by people as a sign of security of tenure and thus many had taken loans to build pucca houses.”
In fact, the report says, “Most of the residents have voting cards, ration cards, birth certificates of children, PAN cards and aadhaar cards with Ambedkar Nagar as the address.”

Comments

Drogo Bander said…
still happy the slums are gone!
Uma Sheth said…
Slums need to be removed PROVIDED better housing is arranged. You can't just throw people out of their homes. If this slum is illegal why are the residents given legal documents?
Anonymous said…
Yet another idiotic and incomplete foreign funded article.
Lord Rothschild loves you!

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