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

World Bank clarifies: Its 26th rank to India not for universal access to power but for ease of doing business

By Our Representative
In a major embarrassment to the Government of India, the World Bank has reportedly clarified that it has not ranked India 26th out of 130 countries for providing power to its population. The top international banker’s clarification comes following Union Power Minister Piyush Goyal’s claim that India has “improved to 26 position from 99” in access to electricity in just one year.

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.

Modi model? "Refusal" to build Narmada's micro canals, keep Kutch dry; help industry

By Medha Patkar*
This is the latest photograph of the Kutch Branch Canal (KBC) of the Sardar Sarovar, as of April 8! What does it show, expose, and what memories do you recall? Is it dry or dead? Is it a canal or a carcass of the same?

Bill Gates "promoting" GMO, Bt cotton, like cartels that have roots in Hitler's Germany

By Our Representative
World-renowned environmental leader and ecologist Dr Vandana Shiva has expressed concern that Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft Corporation, has joined the bandwagon of “a poison cartel of three" – Monsanto and Bayer, Syngenta and ChemChina, Dow and DuPont – all of whom allegedly have “roots in Hitler’s Germany and finding chemicals to kill people”.

Indian talc products contain "contaminated" asbestos structures, can cause cancer: Study

Counterview Desk
A recent study, using polarizing light microscopy, transmission electron microscopy (TEM), electron diffraction, and X-ray analysis on multiple over-the-counter Indian talc products for the presence of asbestos, has concluded that large quantities of body talc products are likely to pose a public health risk for asbestos-related diseases, especially for the cancers related to asbestos exposure.

Why are you silent on discrimination against Dalit jawans? Macwan questions Modi

By Rajiv Shah
Close on the heels of releasing his book in Gujarati, "Bhed Bharat", which lists 319 cases of atrocities against Dalits and Adivasis across the country over the last five years, well-known Gujarat Dalit rights leader Martin Macwan has shot an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, telling him the reasons why he does not want vote for the BJP.

Emergence of a rare Dalit teacher in IIT-Kanpur "disturbed" certain faculty members

By PS Krishnan, IAS (Retd)*
Dr Subrahmanyam Sadrela, a faculty member in the Department of Aerospace Engineering, Indian Institute of Technology (IIT)-Kanpur since January 1, 2018, and one of the rare Dalit members of the faculty in IIT group of institutions, is facing the threat of revocation of his PhD thesis, and thereby also jeopardizing his job and career.

Investigation shows Narmada downstream "seriously" polluted. Reason: apathy, greed

By Rohit Prajapati, Krishnakant, Swati Desai*
Our investigation regarding quality of water flowing in the Narmada river downstream of the Sardar Sarovar Dam (SSD), dated April 6, 2019, between 11.00 a.m. to 4.00 p.m. reiterates, what is commonly known now, that the Sardar Sarovar Project (SSP) is planned without considering its impact on the downstream Narmada River stretch of 161 kilometres, its ecology, biodiversity and fishery, and lakhs of people living close to and dependent on the river directly or indirectly. This, in turn, has led to its present disastrous state.

RTE in remote areas? Govt of India "plans" to close down 2.4 lakh schools

By Srijita Majumder*
The Right to Education (RTE) Act, 2009, came into effect on April 1, 2010, for the first time made it obligatory on the part of the State to provide free and compulsory education to all children from 6-14 years of age in India. The Act, despite its limitations, had progressive elements like neighbourhood schools, community participation, ban on corporal punishment, no detention, continuous and comprehensive evaluation and it hence it appeared that India was not far from achieving universal elementary education.

Election Commission suffering from worst-ever "credibility crisis": Ex-bureaucrats

Counterview Desk
In an open letter to President Ram Nath Kovind, a group of ex-bureaucrats have lamented ‘weak-kneed’ responses of the Election Commission of India (ECI) in the run up to the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. Citing various violations of the model code of conduct, and pointing towards how ECI has taken little action, the letter asks the President to tell ECI to “conduct itself in a manner where its independence, fairness, impartiality and efficiency are not questioned.”