Skip to main content

Mumbai's "toxic hell" took life of 20 people since Aug 2018: Memorandum to CM

Counterview Desk
Seeking “urgent” and “immediate” relocation of residents rehabilitated in toxically polluted Mahul, Mumbai’s civil rights organization, Ghar Bachao Ghar Banao Andolan (GBGBA), a memorandum* to Devendra Fadnavis, chief minister of Maharashtra, has claimed that as many as 20 people have died since August 2018 as a result of the health hazard resulting from the extremely high level of environmental pollution in the area, where 5,500 families were dumped in flats for rehabilitation.
The letter follows 7,000 Mahul residents taking part in a raly starting at Carnac Bunder, Mumbai, in which senior citizens, women, children and chronically ill pollution victims marched up to Azad Maidan to present their “simple demand” to the Chief Minister – to honour the Mumbai High Court order of August 2018 to a location safe for human life. In all, over the last two years, following their rehabilitation, GBGBA contents, there have been “over 150 pollution-related deaths”, with hundreds becoming chronically ill.

Text of the letter:

You are already well aware of the issue of rehabilitation of 5500 project-affect families (PAFs) who have been forcibly evicted from the Tansa Pipeline slums and rehabilitated in Mahul, the most polluted industrial area of Mumbai, an area which is declared unfit for human living. The ecology of the sub-region with refineries and a large number of polluting industries , impacts air, water and all life support here. Locating human beings here is a violation of Air Act, Water Act, Environmental Protection Act as well as the orders of the National green Tribunal and the Hon. High Court of Mumbai; all this information is in the public domain.
These families were to be provided with “in-situ rehabilitation” and resettlement, as per your own promise in 2014, and the correspondence related to this commitment by Prakash Mehta, Minister for Housing. The latest in this regard was November 12th, 2108. i.e. over one month back. We are here today to seek your kind approval to the same with consent and order from you to shift the families who were wrongly rehabilitated in this hell immediately and without delay to save these lives.
The interim report of the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT)-Mumbai has pointed to multiple hazards which the residents of Mahul are facing daily. As per the report, the direction of the wind in Mahul is such that the Projected Affect Persons (PAP) colony will receive all the pollution from these refineries and industrial units. The report has also pointed to the serious issue of contamination of water. It admits that the drinking water has a thin layer of oil over it and the colour of water also gets brownish, indicating that it is not potable at all, at the very least.
There are some shocking findings in this report, along with other worrying facts related to the unsafe location of the PAP colony, which has already been found to be and officially declared by competent authorities as unlivable for human beings, based on both past as well as latest research, as well as health hazards, and actual pollution-related diseases and deaths faced by these residents on a regular basis.
The High Court of Mumbai on August 8, 2018, has already passed an order directing the Government of Maharashtra to provide alternative accommodation away from toxic Mahul. The government’s failure to implement the order of the High Court has led thousands of Mahul residents to hit the streets to appeal to you. Today is the 49th day of their peaceful dharna-agitation, demanding implementation of the order of the High Court of Mumbai, a protest where the women and children of Mahul, as a temporary resort, have begun their protest from a pavement where pollution is less than that at Mahul.
Twenty people have died out of respiratory diseases directly related to pollution even after the Hon. Court directed the government to provide safer alternative housing. More than 150 have died so far. A report by MCGM has pointed out that 88 people have died in Mahul within the last two-three years. It is inhuman and unjust that no concrete steps are being taken to address an issue as grave as this, with urgency and sensitivity. We have already sent to you as well as all the relevant authorities a number of memoranda and held dialogue with every concerned authority, including Vinod Tawde, Minister for Education, who was your representative on June 29, 2018.
Moreover, it was on 17 July, 2018 that Environment Minister of Maharashtra Ramdas Kadam had officially written to you that Mahul is an uninhabitable place, and that the residents of Mahul should be relocated immediately. Kadam, we know, reminded you again on October 26, 2018.
The findings by IIT-Mumbai, the order of NGT regarding Mahul and the letter from the Environment Minister himself have established that due to the worst level of pollution, Mahul is not safe for human beings, and forcing people to live there is resulting in fatalities and therefore is truly criminal. We urge you to take the right decision and exhibit your sense of justice at the earliest.
You are also aware of the fact that during the ongoing agitation, a meeting was held with Housing Minister Prakash Mehta on November 12, 2018, in the presence of all responsible officers of the Government, as well as MCGB, Bhushan Gagrani and Sanjay Kumar. In the meeting, Mehta gave a decision in his official capacity that 5,500 residents could be rehabilitated in Kurla HDIL. He also coveyed to us your positive approach and consent to in-situ rehabilitation since years, and promised to seek the approvals on the written proposal.
The minutes of the meeting are also attached herewith. He also informed us that as Housing Minister, he had been planning for in-situ rehabilitation of Tansa Pipeline Affected Persons since 2001. He showed us several letters he had written to you in this regard. Copies of some of these letters are attached herewith. While we have been awaiting your official written approval, it emerged that you have refused to approve the proposal to rehabilitate the Mahul residents in Kurla HDIL, even on a temporary basis to save their lives.
We were surprised to know that you have no other plans as an alternative for the rehabilitation of Mahul residents, when their lives are at high risk. With the intervention of Aditya Thackeray, MHADA has come forward and offered at least 350 tenements to the Mahul residents, having looked into the serious issues of life and survival.
We have already sent you a list of PAP tenements, already constructed by different housing agencies like MMRDA and SRA which too are available (refer Annexure A ). However, the best possible option seems to be temporary shifting of all residents to one place simultaneously and immediately (in-situ at their original habitation) i.e. to the HDIL Complex at Kurla. These are available without any barrier or execution difficulties as per Minister for Housing Prakash Mehta, all other officials, Nasim Khan and many other MLAs. We just await your order now.
No objection can be raised by any authority, either since thousands of tenements have been built and lying vacant since years. Considering the urgency and need for a humane solution in the context of pollution-related deaths and chronic diseases in Mahul, this option of HDIL Complex Kurla, will not require the bringing together of many different authorities.
Kindly take a final call on this, and ensure justice by relocating the PAPs who are residing in toxic Mahul to HDIL Complex in Kurla, without wasting any more time or causing more deaths.
---
*Signatories: Medha Patkar Anita Dhole Patil Bilal Khan Haresh Karambale Nandu Shinde, Ashok Maskar Rekha Gadge BR Verma

Comments

Uma Sheth said…
Fadnavis needs to visit an Ophthalmologist and an Otorhinolaryngologist.

TRENDING

Allow international human rights observers, media to access Kashmir: US lawmakers

Counterview Desk
In a letter to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, two members of the American Congress, Pramila Jayapal and James McGovern, raising "significant concerns" about what they call "humanitarian and human rights crisis in Jammu & Kashmir”, quoting "credible reports" from journalists and advocates on the ground" have said that "the Indian government has detained thousands of people with no recourse, imposed de facto curfews on residents' and cut off internet and telephone access in the region.”

Rescind Gates Foundation award to Modi, demand three Nobel Peace laureates

Counterview Desk
In a major boost to those opposing the award to the Gates Foundation’s proposed to be awarded to Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his Swacch Bharat Abhiyan, three Nobel Peace Prize laureates, Mairead Maguire (1976), Tawakkol Abdel-Salam Karman (2011) and Shirin Ebadi (2003), have in an open letter called upon Milinda and Bill Gates to withdraw their decision, stating Modi is allegedly involved in human rights violations.

Gujarat's incomplete canals: Narmada dam filled up, yet benefits 'won't reach' farmers

By Our Representative
Even as the Gujarat government is making all out efforts to fill up the Sardar Sarovar dam on Narmada river up to the full reservoir level (FRL), a senior farmer rights leader has said the huge reservoir, as of today, remains a “mirage for the farmers of Gujarat”.
In a statement, Sagar Rabari of the Khedut Ekta Manch (KEM), has said that though the dam’s reservoir is being filled up, the canal network remains complete. Quoting latest government figures, he says, meanwhile, the command area of the dam has been reduced from 18,45,000 hectares (ha) to 17,92,000 ha.
“According to the website of the Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Ltd, which was last updated on Friday, while the main canal, of 458 km long, has been completed, 144 km of ranch canals out of the proposed length of 2731 km remain incomplete.
Then, as against the targeted 4,569 km distributaries, 4,347 km have been constructed, suggesting work for 222 km is still pending. And of the 15,670 km of minor canal…

Now clampdown on rally, arrest of pro-freedom activists in Pak-occupied Kashmir

Counterview Desk
In a fresh evidence, international human rights organizations are not just confining their attention on the Indian state of Jammu & Kashmir (J&K), whose special status was taken away by the Government of India in early August, leading to an unprecedented clampdown on the region. They have simultaneously begun focusing on the Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK), where the situation is said to be worsening.
Thus, the International Human Rights Council ((IHRC) Hong Kong (HK), a top human rights organisation, said to be working towards to the promotion peace, equality, fundamental rights and social justice “as enunciated in the UN Human Rights Charter and other instruments of human rights”, has noted now a new wave of independence movement has struck PoK.  With offices in US, UK, Switzerland and Hong Kong, and having Kirity Roy and Lenin Raghuvanshi as IHRC office bearers from India, in a statement, it has claimed that on September 7 one of the biggest pro-Independenc…

Ceramic worker dies: 20,000 workers in Thangadh, Gujarat, 'risk' deadly silicosis

Even as the country was busy preparing for the Janmashtami festival on Saturday, Hareshbhai, a 46-year-old ceramic worker from suffering from the fatal lung disease silicosis, passed away. He worked in a ceramic unit in Thangadh in Surendranagar district of Gujarat from 2000 to 2016.
Hareshbhai was diagnosed with the disease by the GCS Medical College, Naroda Road, Ahmedabad in 2014. He was found to be suffering from progressive massive fibrosis. He is left behind by his wife Rekha sister and two sons Deepak (18) and Umesh (12),
The death of Hareshbhai, says Jagdish Patel of the health rights group Peoples Training and Research Centre (PTRC), suggests that silicosis, an occupational disease, can be prevented but not cured, and the Factory Act has sufficient provisions to prevent this.
According to Patel, the pottery industry in the industrial town of Thangadh has evolved for a long time and locals as well as migrant workers are employed here. There are about 180 units in in the to…

Bullet train impact report Japan agency property: Govt of India tells Gujarat NGO

The National High Speed Rail Corporation Limited (NHSRCL) has told Gujarat-based environmental organization, Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti (PSS) that the detailed report of Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA) representatives on their visit to Gujarat and Maharashtra assess the impact of the Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train project on farmers is not its property, but that of JICA.

NHSRCL letter to PSS, signed by activists Rohit Prajapati, Krishnakant and Swati Desai, comes following the latter’s request to it on June 10 for the report. PSS was one of the NGOs that represented JICA on the project, saying, if implemented, it would adversely impact farmers, even as pointing towards the fact that the project itself is unviable and Indian Railways needs to invest, instead, more on upgrading the present railway infrastructure.
Following the NHSRCL reply, PSS has shot a second letter to JICA, insisting that the latter should share a copy of the report, even as providing details of the …

Karma tribal festival an occasional to campaign for tribal rights: IPMSDL

By Our Representative
The International Indigenous Peoples Movement for Self Determination and Liberation (IPMSDL), in a solidarity statement has suggested that the current Karam festival of Central India -- which seeks to promote sisterhood, friendship, cultural unity, and closer link to nature -- should be the occasion to campaign against alleged efforts to violently drive away forest dwelling communities from their forest homes.
"Millions are threatened to lose lands and livelihood under the implementation of Forest Rights Act (FRA) of 2006", the statement States, adding, "As corporate interests continues to enter tribal territories and extract profit from its natural resources, indigenous people are pushed to further marginalization and discrimination."
Asserting that indigenous movement in India "remains steadfast in keeping their culture, deeply linked to their lands alive by carrying out their heritage and struggles", IPMSDL, even as extending "…

Historic Chikhalda, temples, mosques submerged, activists 'rescue' Gandhi idol

By Medha Patkar
The first farmer of Asia was born in Chikhalda, if one is to believe archaeological researchers. A historic village, 50 percent of its population is of Hindus and 50 percent of Muslims, yet it has always remained peaceful. Chikhalda has struggled to save water, land and people along Narmada river.

US Air Force expert smells regional security threat following Chandrayaan mission

Counterview Desk
A United States Air Force expert, writing on India’s Chandrayaan -2 mission, has expressed the apprehension that Indian moon probe’s “failure” won’t stop an Asian space race that “threatens regional security.” Affiliated with the US Air Force School of Advanced Air and Space Studies, Wendy Whitman Cobb, who is Professor of Strategy and Security Studies, believes like other space powers, India may be “seeking to improve its technology”, but advances can “also bring greater security concerns.”
Currently, admits Cobb, “These efforts have been primarily civilian and peaceful in nature.” However, India’s turn toward the military uses of space, so much so that lately it has been developing its own military satellites providing services such as remote sensing, tracking and communications “with greater frequency” has begun to “concern” the neighbours.
In her disclosure statement to an article published in the e-journal “The Conversation” Cobb, however, states that whatever…

South Gujarat wastewater carrying pipeline damaged, 'harming' farmlands

By Our Representative
The pipeline carrying industrial wastewater to the Gulf of Khambhat from Jhagadia industrial estate in Bharuch district has been found to have damaged for the eighth time over the last one and a half months. The crack, says a local environmental organisation, has occurred at Hansot, endangering agricultural farms.