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

Telangana govt proposes to give unfettered powers to forest officials, 'help' corporates

By Dr Palla Trinadha Rao*
The Telangana Government is contemplating to replace the Telangana Forest Act 1967 with a new law - the Telangana Forest Act (TFA) 2019, trampling the rights of adivasis ensured under the Scheduled Tribes and other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006 (FRA Act 2006) and Panchayats Extension to Schedule Area (PESA) Act 1996 both of which are central acts.

RSS, Hindu Mahasabha were 'subservient' to British masters: Nagpur varsity VC told

Counterview Desk
Well-known political scientist Shamsul Islam, associate professor (retired), University of Delhi, in an open letter to the vice-chancellor of the Rashtrasant Tukadoji Maharaj Nagpur University, Dr Siddharthavinayaka P Kane, has taken strong exception to the varsity decision to include RSS’ “role” in nation building in the syllabus of the BA (history) course, citing instances to say that the RSS ever since its birth in 1925 with its Hindutva allies like Hindu Mahasabha led by VD Savarkar worked overtime to “betray the glorious anti-colonial freedom struggle”.

British companies export 'deadly' asbestos to India, other countries from offshore offices

By Rajiv Shah
“The Sunday Times”, which forms part of the powerful British daily, “The Times”, has raised the alarm that though the “deadly” asbestos is banned in Britain, companies registered in United Kingdom, and operating from other countries, “are involved in shipping it to developing nations”, especially India. India, Brazil, Russia and China account for almost 80% of the asbestos consumed globally every year, it adds.

One lakh schools closed down, draft policy 'seeks' commercialisation: Whither RTE?

By Our Representative
A national consultation on the new draft National Education Policy (NEP) with senior experts, teachers’ association representatives and other stakeholders at the India International Centre in New Delhi on July 11, organised by the Right to Education (RTE) Forum, has expressed serious concern over curtailment in the budgeted expenditure on education year after year, even as closure of more than one lakh schools over the "last few years."

Lynching as state terror? Complete dearth of 'political will' to deal with mob violence

By Fr Cedric Prakash sj*
On Friday July 5, thousands of people had gathered at a rally in Surat to protest against the growing mob lynching incidents in different parts of the country. There are different interpretations at what happened during the rally: with police blaming the rallyists and those in the rally blaming the police for using teargas shells upon them without any reason.

Beijing-based infrastructure bank 'funding' India's environmentally risky projects

By Our Representative
A new civil society note has questioned the operations of the Beijing-based Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), a multilateral development bank that aims to support the building of infrastructure in the Asia-Pacific region, seeking to fund projects in India through the Government of India’s National Infrastructure Investment Fund (NIIF), calling it “a risky venture”.

Gender budgeting? Govt of India allocates just 2.1%, 0.73% for SC, ST women

By Rajiv Shah
The National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights (NCDHR), one of the most influential all-India Dalit rights networks, has taken strong exception to the manner in which the Government of India has undermined Gender Responsive Budgeting in the Union Budget 2019-20 for scheduled castes (SCs) and scheduled tribes (STs), pointing towards “wide gaps” between the goals and the situational reality of “the Dalit and Adivasi women on the ground.”

Mental health: India's 95% patients "deprived" of medical care, treatment gap 70%

By Moin Qazi*
Among the many challenges India faces, the most underappreciated is the ongoing mental health crisis. Mental illness is actually India’s ticking bomb. An estimated 56 million Indians suffer from depression, and 38 million from anxiety disorders. For those who suffer from mental illness, life can seem like a terrible prison from which there is no hope of escape; they are left forlorn and abandoned, stigmatized, shunned and misunderstood.

Universal healthcare? India lacks provisions to 'fight' non-communicable diseases

By Moin Qazi*
Universal health coverage (UHC) -- ensuring that all people receive proper and adequate health care without suffering financial hardship -- is an integral part of achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. It enables countries to make the most of their strongest asset: human capital.

Include all workers exposed to silica dust in anti-TB programme: Govt of India told

Counterview Desk
In a letter, sponsored by well-known civil rights organization, Occupational & Environmental Health Network of India and signed by more than 60 professionals and activists*, Dr Harsh Vardhan, Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India, has been told that Indian policy makers shouldn't just acknowledge higher TB risk to mine and stone crusher workers, but also “other silica-exposed workers”.