Who Are the Real ‘Encroachers’ In Mumbai ? #mustread #mustshare


Mumbai, the acclaimed financial capital of the country has 54 per cent of its population i.e more than 60 lakh people living in slums occupying only 6 % of the city’s land, as such; the city has been a site of contestation for the resources amongst the constituting residents who draw from different groups-economic, regional and religion. Against as one would like to believe that it is shortage of resources, in actual it is excess of resources but concentrated in very few hands, has been the raison de ere of these contestations. And in these contests the ruling class has been successful to an extent in convincing the public that those staying in the slums are ‘encroachers’ who encroach over public property, land and consume services, be it water or electricity for free. Thus they are a burden on the society. In this small booklet we have tried to clarify this concept of ‘encroachers’, who they really are and on what they encroach.

Below is full report written by Ghar Bachao Ghar Banao Andolan – NAPM

 

(A Fact Book about Mumbai)

 

Published By:

Ghar Bachao Ghar Banao Andolan,

C/o National Alliance of People’s Movements,

29-30, First floor, Haji Habib Building, Naigaon Cross Road,

Dadar (E), Mumbai  E-Mail: gbgbandolan@gmail.com

 

Introduction:

Mumbai, the acclaimed financial capital of the country has 54 per cent of its population i.e more than 60 lakh people living in slums occupying only 6 % of the city’s land, as such; the city has been a site of contestation for the resources amongst the constituting residents who draw from different groups-economic, regional and religion. Against as one would like to believe that it is shortage of resources, in actual it is excess of resources but concentrated in very few hands, has been the raison de ere of these contestations. And in these contests the ruling class has been successful to an extent in convincing the public that those staying in the slums are ‘encroachers’ who encroach over public property, land and consume services, be it water or electricity for free. Thus they are a burden on the society. In this small booklet we have tried to clarify this concept of ‘encroachers’, who they really are and on what they encroach.

 

Mumbai. the City:

Historically, Mumbai was known to be a major centre for industrial production manufacturing industry  and also a major port city of India. These activities required large number of labourer-hands to carry out the associated activities. With a new economic policy in place, Mumbai in particular has been witnessing and undergoing few fundamental shifts and changes in the activities it is engaged in. The Regional Development plans and various other documents spell out the objective of transforming Mumbai from a manufacturing centre to a international city serving as a hub for high end services like finance, information technology, health care and media and entertainment. The Mumbai Metropolitian Regional Development Plan prepared in 1993-94 envisaged a shift from manufacturing and industrial production to the service sector. Concomitantly there has been a shift from manufacturing employment towards trade, finances and service sector.

 

In this mad rush of City’s make over, the victims have been thousands of working class residents who are the spokes in this giant wheel of transformation. The blue print which had been charted out for the city’s development had international consultants (Mc Kinsey International;) and corporate bodies (Mahindra, Tata, ICICI) as its author and was given a participatory touch by formulating a Chief Minister’s Task Force, members of which have been glittering on page three of many newspapers and thus had no concern or regard for the toiling masses of the city. Accordingly, to transform Mumbai into a world-class city it was suggested to invest Rs. 200,000 crore in the next ten years with more private partnerships in city’s development. The envision to transform Mumbai into a global financial hub with major activities being carried out related to financial services only.

 

The Real Encroachers:

From slum dwellers to hawkers, pavement dwellers to fisher folk have been blamed to encroach upon the land and other resources of the city. Time and again they are evicted, their hard earned belongings confisticated and bulldozed under the pretext that they are encroachers. Even their status of citizenship is overlooked and are treated not even as human beings but as someone who is to be cursed and crushed. This illegal and inhuman treatment is meted out under the pretext that they are encroachers. From bureaucrats to politicians, who at the first place thrive on the bribes and votes of these very populations, curse them and order their eviction. The city actually has been encroached upon, its resources from land to water are being usurped. But the question is by whom, who are these encroachers, slum dwellers or some one else? Let’s find out.

 

 

  1. 1.      ATRIA Shopping mall: Housing the Dishoused?

Atria Shopping Mall at Worli has been built on a piece of Municipal land, which as per the existing Development Plan is reserved for the purpose of Housing the Dis-housed and a Municipal Primary School. As per the Development Plan (DP) of the city, on this 3 acre plot, 1885 tenements for the slum dwellers and a Municipal Primary School was to be constructed. But instead the builders in connivance of the officials in Municipal Corporation and Urban Development Department, built a sprawling shopping mall in the violation of the provisions of the DP. The list of illegalities is long. As per the rules, FSI of 1.33 was permissible; instead the developers were granted FSI of 2. The construction was also in violation of the CRZ Notification. While the shopping mall was being constructed illegally on the land that was reserved for housing the dishoused-slum dwellers and project affected, the authorities, else where, remained busy in demolishing “illegal” houses of the slum dwellers.

 

After obtaining documents under RTI, which explicitly stated the illegalities and irregularities of the authorities, a PIL has been filed, demanding demolition of the illegal mall in the Bombay High Court, where Government of Maharashtra & BMC (Mumbai municipal Corporation) has been pleading from builder’s side, supporting and protecting the illegal construction.

 

 

  1. 2.      Hiranandani Gardens: The Scam Garden of Mumbai

The proliferation of slums has always been considered as an activity of ‘encroachment’ over public land and never an act resultant of misplaced policies and priorities. The disparity and discrimination has been exposed time and again by all those who have been associated and committed to the rights of the under privileged who are the hard working but exploited and discriminated. The encroachments by the influential, operating as nexus which includes builders-politicians-bureaucrats are not only ignored, but are formalized and legalized. The most shocking in this regard is the case of Hiranandani Gardens, where land to the tune of 230 acres was handed over to private land holders/developers on an 80 year lease at the abysmal rate of 40 paise per acre. In order to make this possible, laws and rules were twisted, misquoted and violated to incur pecuniary benefits to the private parties but at the cost of public resources. The land was given at such low rates and given exemptions from the provisions of Urban Land Ceiling Act with the understanding that the Developer will construct flats/apartments 50 % of which were not to exceed the size of 40sq.meters and the rest 50 % not exceeding 80 sq. meters.

It is a known fact that Hiranandani Gardens, as it stands today consists of 42 residential and 23 commercial buildings with no flat less than the size of 1800 sq. ft, which exceeds up to 4925 sq. ft as per the information available on their website and brochures issued by the same. Further the price quoted by them for a flat of the area 2125 sq. ft is in tune of 4 crores! While 240 acres of prime land was handed over to builders at the rate of 40 paise per acre under the excuse that they will construct small houses, in actual they built large palatial houses and sold each unit for few crores and fooled the government as well as public. A similar agreement was signed later on by the government with developers at Oshiwara for 160 acres of land.

After the scam was exposed and a PIL filed with the High Court, fine in tune to Rs 2,000 crores was imposed on the Builder which has not been deposited till date.

 

 

  1. 3.      60 Storied Twin Towers: Tallest illegalities.

The 60 storied Twin towers, under construction at Mumbai Central are claimed to be the tallest towers of this country. In addition to the height the builders can also claim of tallest illegalities. The twin towers, as per information availed under RTI, are being constructed on land, which is reserved for a 12.2-meter wide DP road. Also the project is being implemented under a Slum Rehabilitation Scheme. The cost of each flat is in the range of 15 to 45 crores. Documents prove beyond doubt that the towers are being constructed encroaching upon the road which is meant to be an approach road to the nearby Police Staff Quarters and a slum community. The land was earmarked for a colony for police staff and rehabilitating slum dwellers. The project is being carried out by the ‘acclaimed’ Shapoorji Palan ji Builders said to be close to highest politicians.

 

While in the past few months Bombay High Court gave several directions to the state authorities to ensure that the “encroachments” by pavement dwellers and hawkers are removed, the 60 storied towers were being constructed encroaching upon a road. A Legal Notice has been served to the concerned authorities and the builders, demanding the restoration of the road to its stipulated width.

 

 

  1. 4.      Urban Zamindars:

In 1976 Urban Land Ceiling and Regulation Act was passed to prevent the concentration of urban land in the hands of a few persons and to bring about an equitable distribution of urban land to subserve the common good. That the Act was never implemented in its true spirit is a known fact and can be understood as its non-implementation served the interests of the land mafia consisting of land holders-bureaucrats-developers. Though the Act very clearly held that holding of land beyond the permissible limit of 500 sq. mts by an individual was a clear violation of the Act and the land beyond the limit was to be acquired by the State and used for housing the weaker sections but this was never done. As per the estimates of government itself there is more than 22,000 acres of surplus land in state.

In Mumbai only a handful of individuals own more than 15,000 acres of land in absolute violation of the law of the land. The National Commission on Urbanisation in 1987 reported that 91 individuals in Mumbai owned 55 per cent of the vacant land. When lakhs of people are forced to stay in in-human conditions of slums, even a 10 by 10 feet hut is a luxury for many, this holding of hundreds of acres of land by few individuals should not have been tolerated and allowed. The list of few such urban zamindars is as below:

 

S. No. Name of Land holder Land in Possession
01. Godrej & Boycee 2500 acres
02. F.E Dinshaw Trust 800 acres
03. Bairamjee Jeejibhoy 600 acres
04. Essel World 650 acres
05. Amir Park & Amusements 300 acres
06. N K Bhesanim Trust 315 acres
07. K.J Somaiya Trust 175 acres
08. Bhiwandiwala Hormasji 935 acres
09. Ghashiram Ramdaya 885 acres
10. Gaman India Ltd. 240 acres
11. Larsen & Tubro 165 acres
12. Mahendra & Mahendra 140 acres

 

 

 

  1. 5.      Urban Renewal: Mumbai Style.

Ambedkar Nagar, Tulsiwadi houses conservancy staff of the BMC in 9 buildings, who have been residing there since 1945 and belong to Dalit Megh caste of Gujarat. In order to redevelop the area, which is near to the Race Course and Wellington Club, modifications were made in the Development Control Regulations and a special scheme of Urban Renewal was introduced. The project involves demolishing the existing huts and Municipal Quarters and then constructing rehabilitation buildings on a small part of the land and also free sale buildings facing Wellingdon Club Golf Course on the major part of the said land. As per an estimate, the Builder (a consortium of DLF Group, Shapoorji Pallan ji, Akruti Nirman) is to get an estimated profit of Rs 13,000 crores, by constructing this project on the land that belongs to Municipal Body.

Extensive uses of RTI and mobilized residents have been able to expose various irregularities & the same corrupt nexus. The project on BMC land was given to the Builder without any competitive bidding based on public tenders. The demolition of one of the building was carried out forcibly in June 2006 while the Builder obtained the Environmental Clearance in September 2006, this was in the knowledge of the Municipal authorities but they did not intervened and entered into a criminal conspiracy to help the builder commit illegal acts. As per an inter-departmental communication obtained under RTI, the Builder and the Police from the local carried out the demolition without the knowledge and permission of the Ward office. Based on the obtained documents, Legal Notices have been served and complaints registered. Court has been moved to order the Police to register FIR against the erring officials including Shri Jhoney Joseph, Ex-Municipal Commissioner and now the Up-Lok Ayukta, Maharashtra.

 

 

  1. 6.      Public Land: Private Use

Land use in Mumbai is defined and determined by the Development Plan which is drafted by the Town planning Dept and has a statutory binding. The land use can only be as per the use for which it has been reserved in the Development Plan. Demolitions of slums are carried out as it is claimed that they are a violation of the reservations of Development Plan. Surprisingly documents obtained under RTI show that in the last two years, government of Maharashtra changed/deleted the reservations of 60 plots and handed over most of them to private builders to build high rise complexes. More than that, in the last 15 years, government and municipal authorities have only acquired one-tenth of the total space meant for schools, hospitals, gardens and playgrounds. Only three of 281 plots marked for public housing, 48 of 925 plots reserved for schools and only one plot of 379 plots reserved for hospitals has been acquired and developed. The rest have been deliberately allowed to be with the private owners for their commercial exploitation as invariably our ministers and officials of the concerned departments are hand in glove with the land owners.

 

 

  1. 7.      Lease Lands & their Un-Authorised Occupiers

In Mumbai hundreds of acres of land has been leased out by the Authorities across the city and suburbs to a hand full of few influential individuals and families. While the requests by poor for handing over of small tracts of lands on lease basis has been stopped since last many years. These influential people are been granted fresh leases and their earlier lease agreements are renewed and renewed at rates which are far below the existing market rates. This information has been obtained by RTI activist Sh Shailesh Gandhi by exercising RTI.

The total land given by the Suburban Collector on lease is 9,847,372.84 sq.m., and this fetches a lease rent of Rs.4.04 crores. This works out to a rental of Rs.4.11 per sq.m., per year.In the last three years, Mumbai suburban authorities on average charged a lease rental of Rs.106 per sq.m., instead of a rental in the range of Rs.1700 which is as per the existing market rates. The approximate loss in revenues is Rs.48 crores.

 

Even more bizarre is the case of lands, lease of which has expired but the land holders continue to hold the land while they were supposed to revert the land back to the Authorities. thus after the expiry of the lease agreement their status is no more of an encroacher, but the Authorities in this case dare not evict the encroachers. Below is a list of such encroachers whose lease agreements have expired but they still occupy the land, illegally.

 

 

 

  1. 8.      Mills to Malls: A Saga of Scams

One of the biggest tragedies faced by the people of Mumbai has been the closure of the textile mills of Central Mumbai. Notwithstanding the fact that business considerations required the mills to be modernised, yet the mill-owners did not modernise their mills, while they set their eye on the most expensive real estate in the world i.e. the mill lands.  In the process, while the mills got shut down one after another, lakhs of people went into despair. The wives of the otherwise well-paid mill workers had to take to menial jobs such as washing utensils and sweeping floors in the houses of the rich people. Obviously, equity never demanded such a raw deal for the mill workers.

Amidst, such poverty and despair mill lands were sold. This process gave birth to many scams. One such scam, which is being presented here, is that of the sale of 11-acre Jupiter Mills sold by the NTC in July 2005. When NTC issued tenders for sale of land it declared in the tender forms that FSI would be about 59,903 sq. m. ( i.e. about 6.4 lakh sq. feet). Based on this FSI Indiabulls placed a bid of 276 crores for an FSI of this 6.4 lakh sq. feet. However, once the mill was taken over by Indiabulls, the FSI got doubled to 2.66. As per section 26 of the Urban Land (Ceiling and Regulation) Act, 1976, for any sale of land permission of the Competent Authority, ULC was required. In this case, land was sold without permission. The land taken over by India Bulls falls under he reservation of Residential Zone and thus before constructing malls or IT offices they were supposed to build small houses for the poor which they are not. As per experts the current value of the proposed development project is more than Rs 4500 crores while India Bulls had acquired the same property for only Rs 450 crores. The workers who were rendered jobless because of the closing of the mills are still to get any of the benefits that they were promised while the corporates to builders are making thousands of crores of rupees by converting the erstwhile mills into real estate projects much of which is going illegally.

By engaging in such frauds Mill land spread across 600 acres in the heart of the city has been diverted for the construction of Malls, Shopping complexes and corporate house offices.

 

  1. 9.      Bandra Kurla Complex: An Environmental Disaster

Bandra Kurla Complex was developed by MMRDA in early 90s as the commercial centre for the growth of corporate offices and commercial activities. BKC has been developed over 730 acres of land including the area that earlier constituted the basin of the Mithi river. The complex was built on mangrove marshes that surround the mouth of the Mithi river near the Mahim bay. Construction rubble from Mumbai was used to fill the marshes and a shiny new business zone rose in almost record time to compete with south Mumbai’s Nariman Point. . As a result, the mouth of the Mithi has constricted to a third of its original width. BKC has been built mostly on reclaimed Mithi wetland and by destroying mangrove jungle.

The reclamation of 730 acres of land was done ignoring the recommendations of the K.G. Paranjape Committee of 1987; Dr. Kulkarni Report done for the Central Institute of Fisheries 1992; The Mangrove Committee of 1993 ; NEERI Report 1994 & 96 ; BNHS Report for the MOEF . Warnings against reclamation have been loud, clear and repeated but were ignored and overlooked. Today the complex hosts huge premises spread over lakhs of square feet, which house leading financial institutions like ICICI, IDBI, UTI, Citibank and shopping malls

It is not a surprise that it has been termed as ‘criminal engineering’. The G Block of the complex has directly suppressed Mithi River, changed its course of flow and led to destruction of mangroves. About 250 acres out of the total of 730 acres of wetland with jungle that have been reclaimed fall in the G-Block of the Bandra – Kurla complex. Though this was a blatant violation of CRZ91 Notification. The International Finance and Business Centre(IFBC) and surrounding buildings, that form a part of the G-Block of the Bandra – Kurla complex, have been built on the original course of the Mithi River and were part of the intertodal zone. IFBC is house to National Stock Exchange, Financial Institutions and Banks such as ICICI, IL&FS, UTI, NABARD, Laxmi Finance, Dena Bank, State Bank of India, CITI BANK, Bank of Baroda and Bank of India.

In the E-Block of the Bandra – Kurla Complex the M.M.R.D A. (Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority) has built its head office on the course of the Mithi River.

A study byNational Environmental Engineering Research Institute in 1996 concluded that MMRDA by developing BKC has put the region’s ecological wealth towards the path of irreversible ecological damage and the reclamation of wetlands and mangrove swapms in Mithi river estuary would increase the flooding potential in the region.

While, the MMRDA through Mithi River Development Project Authority has been carrying out reckless demolitions of slums in and around the Kurla area under the pretext of removing encroachments, it itself is single handly responsible for encroaching over Mithi river and destruction of Mangroves spread across hundreds of acres of marshy area. Slums all across the city have been demolished in the name of they being in the areas falling under CRZ area, BKC today stands illegally violating the CRZ notifications and thus exemplifying the two sets of laws, one for the influential and other for the poor.

 

 

  1. 10.  Hawkers or Developers

A daily busy life of city dwellers have been made much easier by the hawkers sitting on the pavements and road side with all our daily necessary items just near our houses from where we can purchase things while on the way to somewhere. Hawkers are not new but a very part of our society and tradition they have given birth to many stories, colours to our daily marketing, and more importantly a source of livelihood for thousands of hawkers who are making their humble earning with dignity. Their absence can make our life gruesome to much extent when we will have to make extra walks to malls, shops and pay extra taxes and service prices. They are boon for the common city dwellers in terms of their accessibility and affordability. But many of time one can notice when many other citizens and, hence, as well as the state law identify and refers them as cause for impediments to pedestrian and traffic movements, or also as criminals, etc.. Planning were made to uproot them which completely negates their intricate relations with the common men in the city.

 

One such recent unlawful acts and injustice committed against the hawkers in Malabar Hill sub-division area by one construction company namely, Layer Export Private Limited. The company is trying to construct a high rise posh buildings and parking lot in the area which was reserved for Municipal Retail Market in the statutory Development Plan. Under DC Rule 1967, CRZ area comes under the retail market where residential constructions are not allowed neither a parking lot can come up. This planning violates many of the law and overlooks many necessary requirements of the areas, it do not have the provision for podium which will block the accessibility to the Retail Market and there is no separate space created or left to accommodate small Retail Markets, there is no place to plant trees- violation of DCR 23, the height of building is planned to be 118 meters instead of 41 meters as legally permitted and no mandatory FSI deduction is made on account of RG.

The law or the law keepers have turned its back towards this violation rules by builders while it has become more and more intolerant to the people living in penury. It is surely giving more and more clear indications of how the law is defining in whose city is this.

 

  1. 11.  Encroaching over the Schools

……………………………………………………………………………….

 

Water for Life or for Profits

Water is a social asset & every human being has the right to the use of air, water and earth as protected under Article 21 of the Constitution (the protection of life and personal liberty). But the State does not think so! Access to water has been used as one of the instruments to curb or curtail the rights of the poor and the working class people in the city of Mumbai. In a circular dated 4th March, 1996, whereby the government has directed the corporation not to give any water to the unauthorized constructions coming after 1.1.1995. The argument given was that a huge amount of water is being drawn in these “illegal” areas which has 54% of the total city’s population. These areas are blamed for causing illegal drawing up of water by breaking the water pipes and selling it and causing all unnecessary nuances. In absence of any formal access to safe drinking water, people have to purchase water from the nexus (middle men) who procure the water unauthorizedly from the Municipal system. For this slum women have to spend every day 2-3 hours standing in the queue and have to pay 30 times more than the prescribed rate.

While at the same time the Municipal Corporation has been silent to the pending bills if the rich which are in tune to __________.

Name of the Defaulter Pending Bill in Rs.
Veena Mall Shop Association,Thakur Complex Kandivalli (E) 1975377
Bombay Police Department 6070307
Wadia Estate Trust Wadia Estate M N Road Kurla 3579907
Manager Swadeshi Mills Co, Swadeshi Mills Road, Kurla 2213861
M/S Nest Developers,M G Road Ghatkopar (E) 524252
Ex Eng MMRDA, 19298733
K J Somaiya Trust, Chunabhatti 2594046
Kohinoor Mills Co Ltd, Units of National Textile Corporation 1554200
Maker Chamber 4 Maker Tower En F Premis Co op Soc Ltd 3525348
H Hashumuddin Saheb Ambassador, C/O The Ambassador Hotel, Churchgate 2588621
Maker Chamber IV C/O Hon Secretary Maker 1091918
Taj Mahal Hotel Mere Weather Road Colaba Bombay – 39 1064192
M/S Neel C.Raheja, Ivory Properties & Hotels Ltd 1387200

 

Five Star Hotels or :

As such it is said that land prices in Mumbai are amongst the highest in the world and can be compared to international cities like New York, London in this regard. At the same time scarcity of land has been cited as one of the reason

S. No Name of Lease Holder Location Area (sq.mts) Lease Rent in Rupees
01. Hotel Sea Rock Bandra 95,000 68,162
02. Aaram Hotels Pvt Ltd. Bandra 4046 18,295
03. Juhu Beach Resorts Juhu 1869.1 281.50
04. Juhu Hotel Pvt Ltd. Juhu 197.32 3373
05. Hotel Horizon Juhu   -
06. Eastarn InterNational Hotel Juhu 510 21,424
07. Hotel Corporation of India Juhu 1810.2 72,213
08. Sun & Sand Hotel Juhu 1063.78 1004,40
         

 

 

 

The Struggle:

Starting from December 2004 more than 70, 000 houses were demolished in a short span of four months, this was unprecedented in scale as well as brutality. It resulted in rendering lakhs shelter less, without any roof over their heads, children forced to roam on streets, scores of un-natural deaths, suicides, loss of livelihoods and lives and misery abound. While such brutality was been forced on thousands, there was a section of society that actually applauded the state government on their move. Main stream media instead of reporting the crimes being committed over people kept a track of the value of land that was ‘liberated’ from slum dwellers.

 

People responded to these illegalities, not by suicides but by protesting and raising their voice.Starting from December 2004 there were street protests, dharnas, rallies, picketing offices, assemblies, laying siege to Mantralay to party head quarters raising and exerting their rights. Women who earlier had rarely crossed the door of their household were now at the forefront of the struggle against injustice, holding accountable not only ministers but the system, challenging and demanding their rights raising not only the issues but also proposing and suggesting the way outs, provided the State has the will and a heart to consider options suggested by people. Be it the proposals for Basti Sabha led slum development which is to be carried out minus builders, harnessing the locally available resources-human to material or community led distribution systems for basic services, ranging from ration to water.

 

It was the struggle only, that made the Chief Justice Bench of Mumbai High Court to order that any sort of cut-dates are illegal and providing affordable Housing to the citizens was a responsibility of the State for which a Committee under the chairmanship of the Chief Secretary was formed. One has been witness to different responses of the judiciary to the concerns and issues of the poor. In the year 2006 the Mumbai High Court ordered the eviction of the slum dwellers who have been on a in-definite dharma at Azad Maidan High Court hearing an obnoxious petition considered the rights of cricketers over the rights of the citizens to protest and fight for their constitutional and human rights. Decisions like this clearly reflect a neo-liberal turn of the authorities. Similarly in another case, where with documentary availed under RTI, it was pointed out to the Courts of rampant corruption of the builders and municipal authorities in being able to build a Huge shopping mall on the land reserved for housing the dishoused, judges till date have not given the orders of demolition as` per the rules. But when it comes to ordering demolition of poor’s houses they act promptly, without giving a hearing to the aggrieved parties, as it has happened in case after case. Of particular mention is the case of demolitions carried out around the Mithi River area in the guise of protecting Mumbai from floods. The whole exercise was carried out under the orders of the High Court, but was an ploy to grab the land from the poor and hand over to corporate houses, whose offices are situated in the nearby International Financial and Corporate Complex (Bandra Kurla Complex). This and much more has been exposed by the people, be it the corruption in delivering basic services like food meant for Public Distribution System or the daily collections by police (hafta).

 

The 10 by 10 ft shelter of the poor is considered an encroachment and thus illegal, while Mumbai as in other cities, is abound with constructions which are carried out by the elite and the powerful, by violating and disregarding every law of the land. Be it the acclaimed India’s tallest 60 storied towers being constructed under a slum rehabilitation project over an access road meant for slum dwellers, where cost of each flat is in the range of 10 to 40 crores or one of the largest shopping mall of Mumbai- Atria, which is constructed over land reserved for building houses for the dis-housed.  These illegalities are not only ignored but tolerated and approved, on the other hand bulldozing of hutments of the poor get frantic support by media and the society alike. All this and much more has been exposed and fought against by those, part of the struggle.

 

The evictions have been supported by the arguments of declaring slums as illegal and while shortage of financial resources has been put forward as the reason behind non-provision of affordable housing. This has been challenged and questioned by the Movement. As per the available data, in the year 2006-07 the allocated budget with Urban Development Department was 1173 crores but till Jan 2007 they have been able to spend only 96 crores. Can one agree to argument of non-availability of funds when such huge funds remain unspent while people are forced to stay out in the open, children to be without food or school? Similarly, a handful of land holders, together own more than 15,000 acres of land when as per Urban Land Ceiling Act 1976 any single land holding cannot exceed statutory limit of 500 sq.mt. Why actions are not taken against the defaulters and the excess land acquired and distributed amongst the land less, or is land acquisition to be carried out selectively for the corporates only, be for SEZs or mega projects, people have been raising this question time and again and have thus understood the class nature of the system which, itself works and operates in contradiction to the values and principles enshrined in our Constitution.

 

These principles and values are though, the bedrock of the demands and proposals raised and submitted by people from time to time. Be it proposal of reserving land to the proportionate percentage of the poor to the total population of the city or making basti sabha as the lower most unit of decision making, decentralized planning, equity, social justice and sustainability are the guiding principles which though, are ignored, abused and violated by the Corporatised State, operating day and night for the selfish interests of the few.

 

In such a scenario the only option left is of struggle, for one’s right and dignity, for space, not only physical but also cultural and economic; opposing the ghettoisation and the visionless planning and development. For a people centric approach to urban development affirming the principles of justice, equality, democracy and sustainability. For fostering a vision of inclusive cities, in its true sense.

 

 

Immediate Release-Medha Patkar and Seven Others Arrested While Opposing Evictions


English: Medha Patkar in Sasthamkotta

English: Medha Patkar in Sasthamkotta (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Women and Children Beaten and Harassed by Mumbai Police Force

Demolitions Continue in Sion Koliwada and Ambujwadi and so does Resistance

Mumbai, May 29 : In a brazen violation of the traditional rights of
the fisherfolks in Sion Koliwada Mumbai police and BMC has started
demolishing homes of the people since morning today. Amid heavy police
presence they started demolishing the homes occupied by the Koli
community. There has been court cases going against the redevelopment
plan which is fraught with corruption and irregularities. False
consent has been shown by the community, signatures have been forged
of the people, who are not even alive and other such irregularities
abound in the project. Ghar Bachao Ghar Banao Andolan have been
opposing the plans for evictions and demolitions. The development
project is being implement by builder Sudhakar Reddy, who is a
prominent devotee of Baba Ramdev and are accused of colluding in the
illegality along with BMC.

In morning when the demolition squads arrived accompanied by a large
police force then residents came out in huge numbers led by Medha
Patkar and stood in front of the JCBs and Bulldozers. Police beat up
and harassed those resisting demolitions. Male police was involved in
beating and molesting women protesters too. As we write this the
demolitions continue and so does the resistance from people.
Meanwhile, Medha Patkar and seven others have been arrested by the
Mumbai police on charges of obstructing public officials.

At this time demolitions are also being fiercely resisted by people in
Ambujwadi, Malad where many homes of were demolished earlier as well.

Ghar Bachao Ghar Banao Andolan – NAPM have been leading the struggle
for a long time now in Mumbai and more specifically in these areas. We
are hopeful that the people’s struggle will resist fiercely the land
grab by the builders in connivance with the state machinery. We will
expose the irregularities as we have done in the case of Adarsh
Housing Society, Hiranandani Gardens, Golibar SRA by Shivalik Builders
and others.

We condemn the arrests of the activists of the GBGB-NAPM and assault
on the people by the police force who have been resisting peacefully
the demolitions and striving to save their habitat and home.

Background :

Koliwada, indigenous fisherfolk Community have been living in the area
from a long time on this patch of the land. In 1939 Britishers
constructed NSP sheds for their own security purposes and they were
asked to move to this. These NSP Sheds then were taken over by the
Municipal Corporation after Independence. Even though these fisher
people have lived on the land for more than a century they have been
denied their “right to land”, due to the policies of the Britishers as
well as BMC. BMC now in the name of development is evicting them and
giving away the prime property to the Builders.

For details and update call : Madhuri Shivkar             09892143242       / Madhuri
Variyath             09820619174

“How can you build palaces on land allotted for affordable housing” – Justice Dattu


PRESS RELEASE New Delhi, March 30

Hiranadani’s Special Leave Petition Dismissed by the Supreme Court upholding HC judgement.

 

“How can you build palaces on land allotted for affordable housing” – Justice Dattu

 

Today the Supreme Court Bench consisting of Justice H.L Dattu and Justice Chandramauli Kr. Prasad dismissed the SLPs filed by Niranjan Hiranandani of Hiranandani Gardens against the order passed by the Bombay High Court in a bunch of a Writ Petitions including one filed by Medha Patkar for National Alliance of People’s Movement & Others in 2008. While dismissing the Special Leave Petitions, the Court observed that the High Court is fully justified in holding that the development in ‘Pawai Area Development Scheme’ on 230 acres of land was meant for affordable houses i.e. for constructing tenements of 400 Sq. Ft and 800 Sq Ft. as per the Tripartite Agreement in which the State Government and MMRDA were parties alongwith the original landholders. The Power of Attorney Holder for the original land holders i.e. M/s Hiranandani violated with impunity the very public purpose behind the development scheme, on 230 acres of land which was allotted at a pittance i.e price of Re 1 per hectare (40 paisa per acre).

 

Today the Supreme Court, while dismissing the Petitions, observed that instead of constructing affordable houses, palatial buildings have been constructed which are meant only for those who possess ‘Bentley’ and ‘Ferrari’, when in Mumbai there is not a square inch of land and poor people’s hutments are seen on the road. How can the property which is acquired and leased out for a specific public purpose of ‘affordable housing’ by the authorities can be given to the father, mother and relatives leading to amalgamation, which is a complete eye wash. “What is happening in this Country?”, the Court remarked with anguish.

 

Have you constructed even one tenement as per the conditions in the Tripartite Agreement? Justice Chandramauli Kr Prasad quipped. The Court also observed that the High Court has remarked about collusion of the officials of the State as well as MMRDA with the developer and therefore, at this juncture when the High Court is seized of the matter, they will not interfere with the order passed by the High Court. The Court hearing Adv. Mukul Rohatgi and Gopal Subramaniam who vehemently argued in support of Hiranandani’s, dismissed the Special Leave Petitions. Shri Shekhar Naphade, Senior Advocate appearing for MMRDA said that his conscience does not allow him to keep quiet and that he would like to state in the Court that the officials of MMRDA were in clear collusion with the developers and that the entire development is in violation of Tripartite agreement. Adv Sanjay Parikh appeared for the Petitioner, Medha Patkar and Adv Ashish Mehta assisted him.

The Backdrop:

Land originally belonging to the indigenous people in Mumbai, was purchased by Verma, Sharma and others. Since the large chunk of this land in village Powai and Tirandaz was of a scale violating the Urban Land Ceiling Act then, it was acquired by the Bombay Metropoltan regional Development Authority( BMRDA) at a throwaway rate of 40p/ acre. Based on an official GR of 1986, exempting a developer from ceiling limit under ULCR Act in a scheme, but strictly for affordable housing. The tripartite agreement stipulated building of houses for low income group and middle class people, 50% with 40 sq mt (400 sq ft) area and rest 505 with 80 sq mt(800 sq ft). it is equivalent to 15% of FSI were to be handed over to State Government and other 15% of FSI of houses to be offered to Central Government agencies. A full fledged infrastructure with water supply, drainage etc and road was to be builds as well as open spaces were to be reserved and handed over to MCGM. However Hiranandanis built luxurious flats worth crores each, shopping malls, commercial complexes, business centre’s etc but not one affordable housing tenements. The cases were filed in Mumbai HC by some local residents and by NAPM through Medha Patkar claiming total violation of the agreement and breach of all rules and preconditions. The MMRDA too investigated the matter issuing notices it Hiranandanis brought out of report in 2008 recommending fine of worth Rs 2,000 crores and resumption of lands with MMRDA. However, the State got resorted to arbitration which arbitrarily reduces the fine to a pittance of 3 crores. This was questioned in the High Court and the High Court vindicated the Petitioner’s challenge. The High Court directed that the MMRDA , Petitioner and developer should sit together and file a report with details of property constructed and buildings, infrastructure open space etc. the High Court has directed the MMRDA to submit Report on April 12, 2012

Victory for Ghar Banao Andolan, Mumbai High Court Vindicates their Contention Agianst Hiranandani Developers


Mumbai High Court Indicts Hiranandani Developers; Orders Stopping of Further Construction

Accepts Criminal Fraud and Says Petitioners free to Initiate Criminal Proceedings against the State Government and Hiranandani Developers

Mumbai, February 22 : “It is a victory of the struggles of the working classes of Mumbai who live in slums, bastis and chawls, face eviction and are constantly termed as ‘encroachers’. The interim judgement of Mumbai High Court today vindicates our stand and once again proves the criminal nexus between builders, politicians and bureaucracy. We welcome the directions of the Honourable Court and hope the land will be returned to the original owners or used for the urban poor. It is ironical that the Government of Maharashtra was kind enough to give 300 Acres of land to Hiranandani at the rate of 40 paisa per acre but has continued to evict and break the homes of basti dwellers in Mandala, Sathe Nagar, Golibar, Kannamwar Nagar and others,” said Medha Patkar.

She was reacting to the interim judgement in a PIL filed by her against Niranjan Hiranandani for irregularities and fraud in development of Hiranandani Gardens, township in Powai. Mumbai High Court bench presided by Chief Justice Mohit C Shah and Smt Roshan Dalvi today ordered immediate halting of all construction and directed the developers not to sell any flats without the Court order. The case was argued by Advocate Ashish Mehta on behalf of the petitioner, Medha Patkar of Ghar Bachao Ghar Banao Andolan – National Alliance of People’s Movements. In earlier years the case was argued by senior advocate Y P Singh.

Court accepted criminal intent and illegality in land allotment to the Hiranandani Developers and building of the Hiranandani Gardens it said the petitioners are free to initiate criminal proceedings against the Developers, State Government and other Statutory authorities.

It ordered the developers to construct 3,000 flats (1500 flats of 400 Square feet and 1500 of 800 square feet) to be handed over to the State Government, which will allot it to the Lower Income Group and Middle Income Group people at the rate of 135 Rs / square feet, the rate prevalent in 1985. The land in question was, actually given on lease to Hiranandani for building houses for poor people but in gross violation of all terms and conditions it built sky scrapers, housing societies, Malls etc for rich and big businesses.

While posting the case for final hearing on March 29th 2012 Court directed MMRDA, Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai, State Government, Developers and Petitioners to jointly prepare diagrams showing the extent to which the FSI and TDR has been used and how much remains to be used. Court accepted the contention that huge losses has been incurred by the government due to violations by the Hiranandani developers but didn’t pass any judgement on that since there is a separate arbitration case ongoing in Mumbai High between the State and Developers.

Members of Ghar Bachao Ghar Banao Andolan expressed their satisfaction at the progress and said they will wait for the final judgement in March2012. Millions of working class people have a right to decent housing and it is time state government started evicting the big builders who have encroached upon the public and other land meant for housing of urban poor. Let government use the land above ceiling available in Mumbai for implementing of the right to housing. Let them implement Rajiv Awas Yojana. Our struggle against the Builders will continue and we will continue to expose their corruption.

Sumit Wajale, Prerna Gaekwad, Santosh Thorat, Madhuri Shivkar, Madhuri Variyath

Contact : 9423965153 / 981998059