Skip to main content

Protesting Mumbai “toxic hell” residents form 3-km human chain, minister agrees to meet

By Our Representative
Hundreds of residents of Mumbai’s highly-polluted Mahul area gathered on Sunday, on the 15th day of their protest, to form a human chain in order to capture the attention of the Maharashtra government towards the plight of over 30,000 citizens, who were “rehabilitated” here last year. The three kilometres long human chain saw the participation of people from other slums in Mumbai, students of the Mumbai University, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, IIT Bombay, representatives from several civil rights organizations, NGOs and individuals.
The human chain was followed by a massive rally, which culminated at the residence of state housing minister Prakash Mehta. Following negotiations, the minister called in top social activist Medha Patkar, who was present at the rally, promising her that he would meet a delegation of Mahul residents in Mantralaya on Monday afternoon.
It is already 15 days since Mahul residents started their protest, but, say protesters, they have not received any concrete answer from government officials and ministers. Mehta till now was refusing to intervene in the matter or take responsibility. Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis, too, refused to acknowledge the issue.
For Mahul residents, however, Sunday’s human chain signified unity of their resolve to fight till all the demands are met.
Citizens began their protest under the banner of Jeevan Bachao Andolan on October 28, 2018, after the state government failed to act on the directions of Bombay High Court, asking the state government to provide alternative rehabilitation to the people living in Mahul.
Mahul, which is one of the most polluted regions of Mumbai and is called a “toxic hell” has been made into a rehabilitation space for thousands of citizens by the Slum Rehabilitation Authority (SRA) even after the National green Tribunal (NGT) declaring it as ‘inhabitable’.
Families staying in Mahul have reported deaths and severe illnesses like TB, cancer, tumours, etc. spreading among them ever since they started living here. Over 100 people have reportedly lost their life while living in Mahul. People have termed this as a mass genocide by the state government.
In its order on August 8, 2018, the Bombay High Court also said that if the state government could relocate Mahul residents by giving them alternate accommodation, they should be offered “enough rent” so that people can go to safer places of their choice. The court set a deadline of October 1, 2018 for the state government to take a decision between the two options.
The state government submitted to the court that it was not possible for it to provide any alternative accommodation, nor could it give rent to the people. The state government this say, allege protesters, shrugged off its responsibility to save 30,000 lives.
On the issue of providing alternative tenements, the government said that it didn’t have tenements to be given to Mahul residents. As for the other option, the government said that it was “impossible” give rent, but provide any any reason for taking such a stance.
Meanwhile, the civil rights organization fighting for Mahul residents, Ghar Bachao Ghar Banao Andolan (GBGBA), prepared a list of more 80,000 tenements which are meant for Project Affected Persons (PAPs) and are located at different locations within Mumbai. GBGBA suggested this is a solution for relocating Mahul residents on an urgent basis.
However, with no positive response forthcoming from the state government, Mahul residents were left with no option but to literally come on street to save their lives when they found that the state government has taken off its hand from the tangled issue. They got terrified with increase in unnatural deaths and people suffering from serious diseases. This led to the start of the Jeevan Bachao Andolan on October 28, 2018.
GBGBA’s proposal to provide alternative accommodation received partial approval from Shiv Sena, the coalition partner in the Maharashtra government. It decided to come in support of the movement. On insistence of party’s youth wing president, Aditya Thackrey, the MLA and newly-appointed chairman of Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (MHADA) offered 300 empty lying tenements available with it.
While the ruling BJP, which has all the portfolios in the government to take a final decision on the issues, is being completely mum, the Shiv Sena is going out of the way to resolve the issue by coordinating with other housing agencies to find out more PAP tenements on the lines suggested by GBGBA.
Mahul residents have decided to not take back their agitation, which they started to save their lives until they get confirmation of safe housing to each family living in Mahul. Three hundred houses is like a cumin seed in camel’s mouth as against the demand of around 5,500 houses, they feel.

Comments

TRENDING

Hindus to be 'sent' to Kashmir? Despite Israeli settlements, peace eludes the region

By Anand K Sahay*
Curfew, news and communications blackout, transportation shut-down... News reports from Kashmir are worrying. So are the views relayed through the media, especially television. Old-fashioned repression seems to be consorting comfortably with expressions of concern “for our Kashmiri brethren”. We are looking at Orwell’s 1984 in the making.

Savarkar 'opposed' Bhagat Singh's, Netaji's dream of India, supported British war efforts

By Shamsul Islam*
In a shocking development, the student wing of the RSS put the busts of martyrs Bhagat Singh and Subhash Chandra Bose with Savarkar's on one pedestal at the University of Delhi late in the night on August 20, 2019. Bhagat Singh sacrificed his life for a socialist-democratic-secular republic and Netaji raised Azad Hind Fauj (INA) consisting of people of all religions and regions for armed liberation of India.

UN experts object to GoI move to 'reinforce' trend of prosecution, eviction of tribals

Counterview Desk
In a report sent to the Government of India, three United Nations (UN) special rapporteurs, expressing "concerns" over the failure to ensure "adequate" implementation of the India Forest Rights Act (FRA), have regretted that the Government of India has not cared to reply their previous communications on this.

As submergence stares Narmada valley, Patkar says: With powerful in throne, we're helpless

Counterview Desk
Well-known anti-dam organization, Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA), plans to begin its “Resist Illegal Submergence in Narmada Valley” satyagraha on August 21 at Jantar Mantar, Delhi, amidst news that the situation in the valley is “critical”, with two persons having already died in flood-related incidents in the upstream of the Sardar Sarovar dam.

RTI Act holy cow for Govt of India? Official insists, don't ask why, when, what, where

By Pankti Jog*
The Government of India appears to have begun treating the Right to Information (RTI) Act as a holy cow. Its officials seem to believe that the Act is a sacred law, under which people shouldn't be questioning its functioning. One recalls what Prime Minister Narendra Modi said while addressing an RTI convention in 2015: “Why should government wait for people to ask information, we will have all information out in the domain, we have nothing to hide."

River interlinking to transfer tribals' drinking, irrigation water to Maharashtra industries

Counterview Desk
Top advocacy group, South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers and People (SANDRP), recently submitted its comments on the Damanganga–Vaitarna-Godavari Intrastate Link project to the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC), a project sought to be packaged by the Maharashtra chief minister as diversion of water from allegedly water surplus Konkan region to the drought-affected Marathwada region.

Strategy for united struggle against Hindutva 'fascism': Ideological silence is 'no option'

By Dr Bhabani Shankar Nayak*
Electoral alliance and opportunism of national and regional political parties, neoliberal economic marginalisation and soft secular Hindutva line pandering to Hindu majoritarianism laid the foundation of Hindutva fascism in post-colonial India.

Can't go to court with RTI information, rule Ahmedabad authorities: Kankaria accident

By Pankti Jog*
In a shocking reply to an application filed by me, the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) authorities have said that the information provided under the Right to Information (RT) Act should be used in court or in a judicial process. The Act is known to be a major tool that enables citizens to seek certified copies of documents, records from any public authority of state and Central government within 30 days, as per provisions of the Act.

RSS 'demonizing' Muslim demographics: Hindus' growth rate decline 2.5% lower

By Mohan Guruswamy*
The RSS is riding its old hobbyhorse again. Addressing the Yuva Dampati Sammelan attended by reportedly 2000 young couples organized by the RSS’ Kutumb Prabhodan in Agra on August 21, the RSS Sarsanghchalak, Mohan Bhagwat, apparently concerned about the “declining Hindu population” exhorted young Hindu couples to have more children.

Kashmirisation of India? Ayodhya communal harmony meet: Activists stopped, detained

Counterview Desk
In a joint statement, three civil rights organizations, Rihai Manch, National Alliance of People's Movements and Lok Rajniti Manch, and Socialist Party (India), have taken strong exception to the Uttar Pradesh government taking "preventive" steps against those seeking to hold a meeting on communal harmony at Ayodhya.