Skip to main content

Mumbai's 800 slumdwellers face demolition of dwellings starting May 22 to "save" mangroves, declared "reserved"

By Our Representative
Fear has gripped Bheemchhaya slumbwellers – mainly Dalits and poor – that they would become homeless after May 22, when the demolition of their 800-odd dwellings would begin, allegedly for “complying” with a 13 year old High Court order, seeking to “protect” the Mumbai's mangroves, which were mysteriously declared "reserved".
Helpless and terrified, they are trying to contact government authorities, but, says a note by the Ghar Bachao Ghar Banao Andolan (GBGBA), a Mumbai-based civil rights group, there is “nobody to listen to them.”
“Bheemchhaya residents have contacted the divisional commissioner for appeal”, says GBGBA, adding, “But the office of the divisional commissioner has refused to accept the appeal, since his office only deals with matter pertaining to land belonging got revenue department and not forest department.”
Even the court appears unable to listen to them, says the civil rights group. “The residents of Bheemchhaya have approached the High Court, but since the court is on vacation and the vacation bench is sitting on selected days, it is very rare that the matter will be heard on time”, says GBGBA.
“The Forest Minister is out of the country, and his secretaries are also on leave, so there are no chances. There is no one available in the government to hear the grievances of the slum dwellers. When everyone is on leave, why can’t slum be spared from demolition?”, it wonders.
Following a Bombay High Court order dated October 6, 2005, in the matter of Bombay Environment Action Group in the Writ Petition (lodging) No 3246 of 2004, a large number of mangrove areas in Mumbai and Navi Mumbai were notified as “protected forests” by the Maharashtra Forest Department.
Since certain activities can be allowed in a “protected forests”, like collection of forest produce etc., the Maharashtra government decided to go a little further – notified these areas as “reserved forests”, setting aside its earlier decision to call them just “protected forests”.
Situated in Kannamwar Nagar-2 in (Vikhroli East) in Mumbai, Bheemchhaya is in close proximity to the mangroves area, which is notified as reserved forest. However, claims the civil rights group, “The court in the order said that no construction will be allowed to take place in the mangrove areas after the passing of the order.”
It adds, “Bheemchhaya is in existence prior to order of the High Court was passed and it is also a protected slum as per the Maharashtra Slum Areas (Improvement Clearance & Redevelopment) 1971. A slum is treated as protected if it is in existence prior to the year 2000, and the slum dwellers possess certain documents specified by the government to prove their residence since the year 2000.”
Pointing out that slum dwellers in Bheemchhaya have all the valid documents proving their residence prior to the year 2000, GBGBA says, despite this, the Mangrove Cell of the Forest Department served notices to the residence of the Bheemchhaya in the year 2015 to prove their claims on the land where their homes are located.
“All the residence submitted their residential proofs specified under the Maharashtra Government Resolution dated May 16, 2015. This Government Resolution (GR) has specified procedure for the rehabilitation and protection of slum dwellers on government land if they possess specified documents prior to the year 2000. However, the Assistant Conservator of Mangrove Cell, rejected these claims and passed an order of demolition of their homes in Bheemchhaya”, it adds.
Worse, says GBGBA, “The Assistant Conservator passed these orders under section 53 and 54 of the Maharashtra Land Revenue Code 1966. Section 246 of MLRC provides for appeal if someone is aggrieved by the order passed under section 53 and 54. Yet, in the case of Bheemchhaya, the Assistant Conservator has not specified the appellate authority.”

Comments

TRENDING

Green revolution "not sustainable", Bt cotton a failure in India: MS Swaminathan

Counterview Desk
In a recent paper in the journal “Current Science”, distinguished scientist PC Kesaven and his colleague MS Swaminathan, widely regarded as the father of the Green Revolution, have argued that Bt insecticidal cotton, widely regarded as the continuation of the Green Revolution, has been a failure in India and has not provided livelihood security for mainly resource-poor, small and marginal farmers.
Sharply taking on Green Revolution, the authors say, it has not been sustainable largely because of adverse environmental and social impacts, insisting on the need to move away from the simplistic output-yield paradigm that dominates much thinking. Seeking to address the concerns about local food security and sovereignty as well as on-farm and off-farm social and ecological issues associated with the Green Revolution, they argue in favour of what they call sustainable ‘Evergreen Revolution’, based on a ‘systems approach’ and ‘ecoagriculture’.
Pointing out that Evergreen Revol…

Rejoinder: Inescapable to have Central Water Commission as strong technical body in India

By BN Navalawala*
This is with reference to Counterview Blog (December 5, 2018), "Modi govt 'shelves' water reforms report, shows 'no interest' in its recommendations", below mentioned are my comments/observations thereon:
A committee was constituted under the Chairmanship of Dr. Mihir Shah, Former Member, Planning Commission, for restructuring of Central Water Commission (CWC) and Central Ground Water Board (CGWB) for optimal development of water resources in the country in the backdrop of Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM).

Some Hindu bodies in US defending BJP-RSS' divisive, violent activities: Agnivesh

Counterview Desk Last week, Washington DC saw speakers at a religious freedom roundtable, chaired by the US Ambassador for Religious Freedom, Sam Brownback, express concern over "eroding" space for religious freedom in India. Dr Mike Ghouse, executive director, of the Center for Pluralism in Washington DC, referring to the roundtable, said in an email alert that Indian-Americans have "a moral duty to prevent India from being labeled as a Country of Particular Concern by the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF)".

Rejoinder: Worldwide anxiety post-Fukishima is fading, slowly and steadily

By Dr KS Parthasarathy* 
EAS Sarma, former Secretary, Government of India (GoI) in a letter addressed to the Secretary, Department of Atomic Energy (DAE), GoI, stated that, there has been "worldwide anxiety about the consequences of catastrophic nuclear accidents, either due to manual lapses or natural calamities" (Counterview, December 2, 2018). "In the recent years, globally, the pace of growth of nuclear power has escalated in leaps and bounds, causing a great deal of public concern and apprehension."

Karnataka: NGO Akshay Patra "not sensitive" to nutrition demands of school children

Counterview Desk
Well-known civil rights organizations, Right to Food Campaign and Jan Swasthya Abhiyan, have sent a letter to the Union minister of human resource development, the Chief Minister of Karnataka, other concerned ministers and officials of the state expressing concerns regarding the mid-day meal (MDM) to school children, insisting, all contracts to the Akshay Patra for supply of MDM should be immediately terminated.

India's rewritten textbooks talk of demerits of democracy, praise Hitler, underrate Mughals

Counterview Desk
A detailed, 3,800-word review of the books rewritten under directions of the BJP rulers across India since Prime Minister Narendra Modi came to power in May 2014 has suggested that one of aims of the books is to instill a sense of doubt about India’s democratic polity among the country’s young minds. Reviewed in the prestigious US journal, “The New York Review of Books”, in its latest issue (December 6, 2018) by Alex Traub, the scrutiny insists, the effort has also been to paint Indian history from the angle of “Hindu triumphalism”, even as creating “Islamophobia”.

Modi's PRO, who served previous Congress, BJP CMs in Gujarat with "equal" competence

By Rajiv Shah
A public relations officer (PRO), even as maintaining anonymity, is supposed to “manage” reputation of his or her client, reflecting the client’s views in order to influence opinion and behaviour. A PRO is also known to use, the world over, media and communication to build, maintain, manage and plan publicity strategies and campaigns, even as dealing with enquiries from the public, particularly media, organising promotional events such as press conferences, open days, exhibitions, tours and visits. A PRO is also supposed to final touches to press statements for his or client.

80% school children are beaten up, 91% parents "approve" of it: Report

By Rajiv Shah
A recent report, prepared by researchers with the civil rights group, Agrasar, has revealed that of the 521 children from marginalized groups surveyed in Gurugram, Haryana, 80% said they are punished at school. Based on data collected from semi-urban communities in Gurugram, the report’s conclusions also take into account survey 100 parents, personal interviews with 26 children, three focus group discussions and one seasonal calendar exercise with 29 parents.

Proposed expansion of Karnataka N-plant "ignores" worldwide anxiety post-Fukishima

Counterview Desk
EAS Sarma, former secretary, Government of India (GoI), in a letter addressed to secretary, Department of Atomic Energy (DAE), GoI, with copies to chairman, Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) and chairman Karnataka Pollution Control Board, has said that radiation and environmental risks have been ignored in DAE’s proposal to set up Units 5 & 6 (2X700MWe) at Kaiga Nuclear Power Station in Karnataka.

Forced child labour rampant in Uttar Pradesh sugarcane fields: Oxfam study

By Rajiv Shah
A 14-year-old boy and his older brother were hired by an agent from Bihar under the pretext of getting them a job in a shoe factory in Uttar Pradesh. The agent brought with him a dozen-odd to Uttar Pradesh under the pretext of offering work to them in a factory. Only upon arrival in Muzaffarnagar, the boys were told that they would be working in a sugarcane field.