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

India under Modi among top 10 autocratizing nations, on verge of 'losing' democracy status

By Rajiv Shah
A new report, prepared by a top Swedish institute studying liberal democracy, has observed that there has been a sharp “dive in press freedom along with increasing repression of civil society in India associated with the current Hindu-nationalist regime of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.” The report places India among the top 10 countries that “have autocratized the most”. Other countries that have been identified for rolling towards autocracy are -- Hungary, Turkey, Poland, Serbia, Brazil, Mali, Thailand, Nicaragua and Zambia.

Savarkar 'criminally betrayed' Netaji and his INA by siding with the British rulers

By Shamsul Islam*
RSS-BJP rulers of India have been trying to show off as great fans of Netaji. But Indians must know what role ideological parents of today's RSS/BJP played against Netaji and Indian National Army (INA). The Hindu Mahasabha and RSS which always had prominent lawyers on their rolls made no attempt to defend the INA accused at Red Fort trials.

Gujarat link of controversial US doctor who 'forced' WHO quiz Trump's wonder drug

By Rajiv Shah
A top American doctor, Sapan Sharankishor Desai, born and raised in the “affluent” North Shore (Chicago) region of Illinois by Indian parents, at one point of time involved in NGO activity through  dedicated to “improving” the lives of the impoverished in Gujarat, is in the eyes of a major international storm following his paper (retracted) in a “Lancet” questioning Donald Trump-promoted drug hydroxychloroquine.

Border conflict? RBI nod India's 'brotherly' help to China internationalise its currency

By Bhabani Shankar Nayak*
In the middle of a global pandemic, China started an unprovoked border conflict with India. It unraveled trust deficit and ties between the two neighbours. As thousands of Chinese troops tried occupying Indian territory, the Narendra Modi-led BJP government directs the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to allow the Bank of China to start regular banking services in India. The Bank of China will now operate in India like any other commercial banks.

Dalits in India, Blacks in US suffer 'similar' humiliation: Macwan drafts letter to Trump

Counterview Desk
Well-known human rights activist Martin Macwan, recipient of the prestigious Robert F Kennedy Human Rights Award in 2000, has drafted an open letter to US President Donald Trump following the disturbing turn of events with the murder of George Floyd, leading to widespread protests in the US. He has sought signatures of concerned citizens before sending it to Trump.

RSS supremo Deoras 'supported' Emergency, but Indira, Sanjay Gandhi 'didn't respond'

By Shamsul Islam*
National Emergency was imposed on the country by then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi on June 25-26, 1975, and it lasted for 19 months. This period is considered as ''dark times' for Indian democratic polity. Indira Gandhi claimed that due to Jaiprakash Narayan's call to the armed forces to disobey the 'illegal' orders of Congress rulers had created a situation of anarchy and there was danger to the existence of Indian Republic so there was no alternative but to impose Emergency under article 352 of the Constitution.

Clean chit to British rulers, Muslim League? Karnataka to have Veer Savarkar flyovers

By Shamsul Islam*
The BJP government of Karnataka led by BS Yediyurappa is going to honour Hindutva icon VD Savarkar by naming two of the newly built major flyovers in Bangalore and Mangalore after him. There was a huge uproar against this decision of the RSS-BJP government as many pro-Kannada organisations with opposition parties and liberal-secular organizations questioned the logic to ignore so many freedom fighters, social reformers and others from within the state.

Hurried nod to Western Ghat projects: 16 lakh Goans' water security 'jeopardised'

Counterview Desk
Taking strong exception to "virtual clearances" to eco-sensitive projects in the Western Ghats, the National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM) in a statement has said urged for a review of the four-lane highway, 400 KV transmission line and double tracking of the railway line through the Bhagwan Mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary and Mollem National Park in Goa.

Disturbing signal? Reliance 'shifting focus' away from Indian petrochemical sector

By NS Venkataraman*
Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL), a large Indian company, has expanded and grown in a spectacular manner during the last few decades, like of which no industrial group in India has performed before. RIL is now involved in multi various activities relating to petroleum refineries, petrochemicals, oil and gas exploration, coal bed methane, life sciences, retail business, communication network, (Jio platform) media/entertainment etc.