Gujarat – PUCL Report on Rajkot on SELF IMMOLATION INCIDENT


 

(Observations and findings of PUCL investigation team)

 

On 5th April, 2013, a team of Peoples’ union for Civil Liberties (PUCL – Gujarat) went to Rajkot for Fact Finding of the incident of Self immolation by five persons of a Nepali family in Rajkot. The incident took place at Municipal Corporation premises, in the presence of number of securities, officers and visitors of Rajkot municipal corporation. The whole episode was over within a span of less than 10 minutes as private visuals and RMC Close circuit TV footages shows.

 

On the third day of the incidence, the  PUCL team met varied sections of people including the family members of the deceased people, Municipal Commissioner and Deputy Municipal Commissioner of Rajkot Municipal corporation, Security personnels, Eye witnesses of the incident, journalists, residents of Chhotunagar society, Rajkot Police Commissioner, eminent citizens, etc. and questioned them on the basis of the information obtained from the media reports and other public sources

 

BACKGROUND

 

On 3rd April 2013, seven members of a family in Rajkot attempted self immolation in Rajkot Municipal Corporation. Out of these, three members, Sh. Bharatbhai Mansingh Vishwakarma(Age 40), Sh. Girishbhai Mansingh Vishwakarma( Age 25) and  Sh. Ashaben Bharatbhai Vishwakarma(Age 35) died almost by the time they were taken to the hospital. Sh. Basmatiben Mansinghbhai Vishwakarma(Age 60) and Sh. Rekhaben Mahendrabhai Vishwakarma(Age 30) struggled but died on 6th April in the Burns ward of Civil Hospital, Rajkot. While Sh. Gauriben Girishbhai Vishwakarma and Sh. Shantaben were saved.

 

Sh. Mansingbhai Vishwakarma, the father of  victims Bharatbhai and Girishbhai, used to stay with his family in the common plot of Chhotunagar Society, Nr. Amrapali Cinema, Rajkot, earlier than 1980. The Chhotunagar society had given this place to stay as he was providing security to the society. He built a hutment in the premises with the permission of society members, the electricity  and water connection was provided by the society, both the connections were in the name of society office bearers of that time. Mansinghbhai used to serve as the security of the society, he died three years back. While Sh. Basmatiben and other lady members of the family used to do household chores in the houses of the society members till the incidence took place.

 

Three years back, Sh. Mansinghbhai died of heart attack. After his death, the remaining members of the family were allegedly pressurized by the society members to vacate the place. That resulted in bitterness in the relationship between the family and present office bearers of the society.

 

Meanwhile, some part of  old house of the family was broken and in its place, they started construction of new wall to support to old structure. Some of office bearers of the society and municipal councilors Mr. Rajbhai Zala and Mr. Mirani represented to the Rajkot Municipal Corporation to stop the construction of new wall. Rajkot Municipal Corporation gave notice to the family and with immediate  effect the water connection by RMC and electricity connection by Society were withdrawn since August 2012. Against the notice of  RMC the family moved to  Civil Court. As remaining members of family said that, they were being harassed  by many calls at very odd time like late night, at the time of lunch and dinner by RMC town planning staff, other RMC staff members and some unknown persons. Many a times they used to visit the place and male members of family using RMC vehicles and staff to threatened the family with abusive words. These were happening frequently while the case was going on in the court.

 

The Civil Court dismissed the plea of Nepali family on 23rd of March, and they were allegedly not only pressurized but also threatened in person and also by telephone by various people to vacant the land.  The family claims that these persons include society members, the staff of Municipal Corporation and Town Planning, Police Personnel as well as the local Corporators. The harassment level went to such an extent that the family came to the Municipal Corporation premises to complain against the harassment by the RMC staff , the municipal commissioner Mr. Bhadu was out of office,  the deputy commissioner Mr. Kotwal refused to hear them with insulting words. They felt that they have lost all hopes to get justice, then they self immolated themselves in front of the Municipal Commissioner office.

 

With this background, the team members of P.U.C.L.-Sh. Balendrabhai Vaghela, Sh. Kamleshbhai Bhavsar, Sh. Bhavik Raja and Sh. Rimmi Vaghela, interrogated some people and could get the following information:

 

 

Madhura (Daughter of Sh.Bharatbhai Nepali who died by Self immolation)

 

According to Madhura, her grandfather Sh. Mansinghbhai Nepali was serving as security of the Chhotunagar Society since approximately last 50 years. Three years back, he died by heart attack. From that time onwards, society residents have started their harassment. Among those who were harassing, she could name Lalitbhai, resident of ‘Ashirwad ‘, Rajyaguru, Dushyantbhai, etc.

She further said that they were harassed to vacate the place. No written notice has been served, but they were threatened time and again. They had water and electricity supply. Those connections were also cut since last six months. She said that some people used to call her father on his mobile even at midnight and threaten.

On asking she said that among those who called her father were Jhala and Mirani.  Her father and uncle’s mobiles are still missing after their death. They are two sisters and five brothers. She is eldest and studying in the 12th std. other brothers and sisters are also studying. Her grandmother Basmatiben, Age 55 and Aunt Rekhaben, Age 28 are still serious and admitted to Burns Ward of Rajkot Civil Hospital. (Both of them died while the report was being prepared). Congress has given them Rs.1 lakh each. They have many times registered complaint in Gandhigram, Amrapali, and other police stations. Once she herself has gone. But no action has been taken. Initially they exerted normal pressure. But the society people then started doing lot of pressure on us. My Uncle returned home just one month back and now he is dead. No tax bills but light bill used to come.

Elderly people used to send us out before they discuss within themselves. She says even if I die, I seek justice. I don’t need money, I need my parents and family members back.

 

Joshnaben Bhatti (volunteer of Nari suraksha, a women organisation)

 

According to Sh. Joshnaben’s claim, the 11 volunteers of their organisation are continuously standing with the victim family and helping them. she said that pressure on Doctors, Hospital staff, Police,  Family members,  volunteers of Naari Suraksha Samiti etc. was being exerted by higher authorities for signing. The volunteers are threatened to leave the place. The Police personnel are saying that if you don’t sign then we will declare the dead bodies unidentified. The third brother Mahendrabhai was missing yesterday evening.

When he returned, he said he was threatened on one hand and offered 20 lakh rupees on the other hand.

 

 

Gauriben (Wife of Girishbhai Vishwakarma)

 

I demand that we want justice. She said that last night before the incident somebody called on Bharatbhai’s mobile. The society residents always used to threaten them. That bookseller used to say, “Want to fight?” Even the Municipal Corporation Staff used to come and threaten in very abusive language like “Go away. Land is not your father’s.” Girishbhai used to do job and then left job. No notice used to come. One one car used to come. We had been complaining to Police many a times. They took complain, used to assure help but did not take any action. When our water and light connections were cut, that time also we along with Nepali Samaj people went to police. But they did not take action. Mahendrabhai, the youngest son is not having any job.  She said that they are staying at that place even before the society was constructed. She emphatically said that what has been published in newspaper as dying declaration is not truth. They doubt that they were not in the situation to talk so many things. They would have never said that police has not harassed them. Because even police was also harassing them time and again.

It came in the newspaper that all were frustrated by the harassment to such an extent, but that is not true. There is some game within it.  It was to such an extent that her mother in law Basmatiben and her husband Girishbhai had developed high blood pressure. No body came to save. It is shocking. She also claimed  that it is not self immolation. Somebody else has put them on fire. When she tried to save them, she was held and resisted. And somebody said that you don’t worry, we will save them. I could not see the face of my husband, could not even give a sip of water. Even I had kerosene and petrol. Kerosene alone cannot catch this much fire. Somebody might have put petrol in it. Corporation staff did not come for help and rather they closed the door.

 

 

 

 

Meenaben (Family relative from Bombay)

 

She supported Sh. Gauriben’s claim that it is not self immolation but they are being killed. She said that C.C.T.V. camera were kept off to conceal the facts. We want justice for the remaining people of family. If necessary, you please take representation even up to Delhi. One can do immolation, how all can do that. Rather if one has done immolation others will go to save.

 

Ajay Bhadu (Municipal Commissioner, Rajkot Municipal Corporation)

 

Sh. Ajay Bhadu said that on the day of incident he was not present in the office but was reported about the incident on his return. As he was not present, the family went to meet Deputy Municipal Commissioner, Mr Kotwal. Talking about the detail of the case he said that municipal corporation has regulating authority over private construction. Accoding to General Development and Control Rules, all society have to keep atleast 10% of their total area as common plot. Regarding common plot or any encroachment over it, it is society’s deal. Municipal Corporation can only give notice in the case of any construction over the common plot. And so in spite of repeated complaints by the residents of the society, Minicipal Corporation took the stand that it is internal matter of the society and Municipal Corporation cannot interfere. The residents of the society also represented to the Collector Office and other authorities from where the directions to act came. But yet the stand of Municipal Corporation did not change. He said that there is a provision for the Municipal Corporation in such cases only if the residents of the society hand over the common plot to Municipal Corporation.

He claimed that the Municipal Corporation came into the picture only when the Nepali family started construction in that plot. The residents of the society gave written complain one year back and so on the bases of that Municipal Corporation gave a primary notice to the Nepali family in May-2012 to which the family replied. Again in August-2012, final notice was given which was to be mandatorily replied within one week. Against this notice the family went to civil court. Meanwhile in spite of continued complains of the residents, Municipal Corporation took the stand to wait for the civil court judgment. The civil court dismissed the application on 22nd March.2013. Yet Municipal Corporation decided to wait for getting the written judgment in their hands. Ironically they got this written judgment in the evening of 3rd April.

He accepted that the local Corporators accompanied with the residents of the society once or twice during their representation to the Municipal Corporation. Now that civil court had dismissed the appeal, it might have created frustration for the family. Further, the residents of the society gave it in media. Due to condition created, the family might have felt depressed and have taken the recourse to such extreme step. When we questioned him that as builders get chance to regularize their illegal construction by paying impact fee cannot this be applicable to this poor family? He replied that technically it could have been applicable if their construction would have been done before March-2011. We asked him that the family had water connection as well as electricity connection, are they not sufficient to prove their legal possession. He replied that water connection was taken in the name of society and not in the personal name of the family. Further even if the family gets tax bill on their name yet that does not prove their possession. He said that the 5 lakh rupees each as compensation to the family is being announced by the Municipal Corporation on humanitarian ground. He also assured that as long as the family is in the stage of distress, the Status Quo will be maintained.

He said that the family entered the Municipal corporation premises from the back side-from unofficial door. So our security personnel could not notice them.

 

Mr M.M. Kotwal (deputy Municipal Commissioner, Rajkot Municipal Corporation)

 

Mr M.M. Kotwal claimed that on the day of incident no one had come to make representation before him from Chhotunagar society. At the time of incident he was in the meeting in his own office with Tax Officers Sh. Kagathara. Sh. Rupareliya Sh. Prajapati and Account Officer Sh Nandani. On hearing some noise he came out of his to find out what is happening but one of his staff member closed the common glass door for his security. Peeping through the glass he could see nothing else but lot of smoke. He opened the door to inquire further but as lot of smoke started entering the office he was compelled to close the door. He returned to his office and called 108 ambulance as well as fire brigade. The other officer of Municipal Corporation sitting with him during our visit informed us that 108 ambulance always remained ready in our own premises and fire brigade is just adjacent to their office.

We further inquired with the security personnel,  the visitors of the Municipal Corporation Office as well as Sh. Naranbhai Madhubhai who tried to save the victims on the day of incident with the help of his own shirt. While the security personnel claimed that the victims brought cans of Kerosene. Naranbhai claimed that they brought fuel in the pouch. All of them could not say clearly whether the fuel  used was Kerosene or Petrol or any other object.

 

 

 

 

Sh. Ranchhodbhai Dobariya (Resident of Chhotunagar Society)

 

According to Sh. Ranchhodbhai Dobariya’s claim he was the first person to construct house even before the society was set up. Few years after some rooms were there outside the peripheri of society  where Sh. Masingbhai were taken shelter. He used to remain very sick and so residents of society decided to give him shelter in the common plot of the society and in this manner ten years after he came to the society Sh. Mansingbhai started staying in a small hutment with his family approximately in the year of 1990. He used to work as security of the society. We used to help his family by providing grains, oils etc. Society has decided to give him a fix amount of salary. We had very intimate relationship with the family. And the family was very dissent and there was no nuisance. Only the youngest of the son Mahendrabhai was liquar addict and used to drink liquar with his circle sometimes. But otherwise no other nuisance was created by them. When a skim was announced for housing on Sadhu Vaswani Road, the society members helped all three sons of Mansinghbhai to get a house each by draw system. There had been no pressure or threate from society members on the family. But only when they started new construction, all the problems occurred. but still then no one used to enter their premises only the people whose name they have given used to take photographs of the progress of the new construction. But that too from outside the premises. If they have not demolished their old structure and started construction of newer one, there were no controversy at all. And yet society has never said them to vacat the place. They have only objected the new construction. Ranchhodbhai strongly feels that they have taken such extreme step only dye to somebody’s instigation otherwise no other such factors were present.

 

 

Nizamuddinbhai Ansari(Resident of Adjacent Society of Chhotunagar, his house is just opposite to the desputed land)

 

Nizamuddinbhai claims that he started saying in the society since 1983 that is about 32 years back. At that time Mansinghbhai was already staying with his family and doing security of the Chhotunagar Society. He did not know much detail of the despute but he feels that they would have taken such extreme steps because of harassment only.

We could not contact Sh. Ghanshyambhai Pandya, executive member of the committee of the society.

 

Mansukhbhai Joshi (Educanionist, First appointed Mayor of Rajkot Municipal Corporation and eminent citizen)

 

Mansukhbhai said the citizens of Rajkot are very much disturbed by the incident. As the Municipal Corporation is not paying any heed to a common people’s cause, the people are very much frustrated. This incident is the highest expression of such frustration. He also repented that the people are becoming so selfish that while making housing skims, they do not make any provisions for their service class like security, scavengers, domestic workers, etc. He also felt  regretted that in such condition we are not being able to do anything actively to check such incidents. But he assured that we will provide as much financial help as possible to the remaining family members and try to ensure that the education of all the children do not suffer.

 

 

H.P.Singh (Police Commissioner, Rajkot)

 

Sh.H.P.Singh said that the investigation is going on. We are trying to gather the evidence. Media and other people give stress on arrest but our focus is on gathering the evidances. He accepted that in the past written complains were done in different police station from both the sides and necessary actions were taken by the police. He said that even if the lost mobile of Sh. Bharatbhai and Sh. Baratbhai, we will opting call details from the company.

 

SOME MISSING LINKS

 

  • In the conversation with most of the people, we felt that all of them did not believe it to be natural incident. They felt that somebody might have instigated them to do so. The family has not given any such ultimatum to any concerned people family member, relatives or authorities of taking such step.
  • The people in large number were present. Police personnel and media persons were also present. The full shots have been taken of the entire incident. The timing of the incident is near about 12.00 noon, the busiest hour in any of the offices. It doesn’t seem natural that no one came to save them.
  • According to Gauriben’s claim, when she tried to go instinctively to rescue her husband, she was stopped and someone assured her that we will save them, you don’t worry. But no attempts of saving can be seen from the footage of the media coverage. Then who and why would have assured her so?
  • The disputed land was the common plot. It is road touch. The land of the society is said to be worth crores of rupees. Is there any role of land mafias in the whole episode to grab the land?
  • According to the family, they have done police complaints repeated number of times, even sometimes in written. The police assured them to take action. But no actions have been taken to check the threat. Why? Was there any pressure on Police?
  • Family members strongly feel that it is not self immolation. According to them, “ a big Game” has been played with them in this incident. What is the root of such belief? What can that probable “Game” be?
  • The fire extinguisher was very near to the place of incident. Even ladies toilet was nearby, where one of the lady went after being immolated. Why no one tried to use the fire extinguisher or water from the bathroom.
  • Even the offices of Standing Committee Chairman, Opposition leader, etc. were nearby the incident. What was the status of those offices? What actions were taken by them?
  • When some people are self immolating, how can Deputy Municipal Commissioner close the door of his office from inside?
  • No one is yet clear whether it was kerosene or Petrol that was used?
  • How so many people(7 in number) with inflammable thing like Kerosene could enter the premises where the security companies are so large in number that even Municipal Commissioner doesn’t know the number?
  • The fire brigade is just adjacent to the premises. Yet it took long time to reach. And reached only to find that owing to lower level pillars at the entrance of the Municipal Corporation office, it is not possible for their vehicle to enter.
  • The video footage shows that even when ambulance arrived, the staff of ambulance is not taking the victims in stretchers. They are waiting for them to use all their energy to reach the ambulance. The staff is waiting down. And they take them to the stretcher only after they collapse. Is this the emergency service?!
  • Up till now, the names of two local Municipal Corporators have come-Sh. Kamleshbhai Mirani and Sh. Rajbha Jhala in the dying declaration of the victims. Police has neither arrested them, nor even interrogated them. What can be the reason?
  • Today(11 April, 2013), C.C.T.V. footage of the Municipal Corporation office revealed the suspicious presence of the B.J.P. Councillor Sh. Narendrabhai Solanki during the time of the incident. It was also found from the mobile call details of Sh. Bharatbhai Vishwakarma that on the previous night, i.e. on 2ndApril and even on the day of the incident i.e. on 3rd April, before the incident, number of phone calls have been done by Sh. Narendrabhai and from the office of Standing Committee Chairman. Why did police not make any arrest and only interrogated even after such substantial evidence?
  • If so many conversations happened before the incident, why the victims did not mention them in their dying declarations?
  • Were dying declarations of the other two victims who died on 6th April taken or not?
  • The members of the ruling BJP were so sure of the innocence of their Corporators, that they took out procession in their support. Then why is it that the Chief Minister did not make any statement in the incident? Why the Chief Minister, Speaker or even the Governor not even said a word of condolence to the victim family?

 

These are the questions that are yet to be answered. It is very difficult to conclude in such situation. May be follow up interrogation, if possible, might help us to conclude. In any manner, our conclusion lies in the answer of the above mentioned questions.

Looking to the Seriousness of the problem, we demand a high power committee headed by retired high court judge should be formed to investigate whole episode thouroughly to find out some missing links as mentioned above.

 

Balendra Vaghela                                             Kamlesh Bhavsar                                Saurashtra – Kuttchh Lokhit                           Advocate (Ahmedabad)

     Sangharsh Samiti (Rajkot)   

 

    

     Bhavik Raja                                            Rimmi Vaghela

     Democratic Student Organization            All India Mahila Sanskritik Sangathan

     Ahmedabad                                             Ahmedabad

 

 

MEMBERS OF PUCL INVESTIGATION TEAM

 

————————————————————————————————————Report Released by

Gautam Thaker – General Secretary – PUCL (Gujarat) M.09825382556

 

One lakh fine imposed on Shimla Shopkeeper


IANSIANS – Fri 26 Apr, 2013 

 

Shimla, April 26 (IANS) A sweetmeat seller was fined Rs.one lakh, the highest ever penalty in the state, by a designated officer for selling sweets that failed to comply with the Food Safety and Standards Act of 2006, an official said Friday.

Shimla Municipal Corporation health official Omesh Bharti fined the shopkeeper Thursday, after the samples of the sweets seized from his shop were found to be adulterated.

Government sources said the state government had recently delegated powers to all health officers under the food safety act to impose fines on vendors if food samples failed to meet standards set by law.

 

#Mumbai- Protest against Corporatization of Municipal Schools @March 16


india calcutta bookstore

 

Corporatization of Municipal Schools – Disaster for Students, Parents and Teachers!

 

Cancel the decision of handing over education of 4 lakh municipal students

 

to Private organizations, NGOs and Companies!

 

Join the Protest on 16th March 2013!

 

In the guise of improving quality, the Mumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has taken a decision on 23 January 2013, to hand over all of it’s 1174 schools to private organizations and companies under a ‘Public Private Partnership’ scheme of ‘School Adoption’.

 

The Mumbai Municipal Act and the constitution mandate that the responsibility of Primary education lies with the Municipal Corporation. However the BMC is washing its hands away from the responsibility of primary education. This is only a beginning of privatization of education and soon all other Municipal Corporations, Municipalities, Zilha Parishads will abandon their responsibility for education.

 

The state and central governments provide funds to the Municipal Corporation for education, the BMC levies additional Education Cess to meet the expenses for education. However even the basic facilities are not provided in BMC schools; enough number of teachers and supporting staff are also not appointed; teachers are burdened with non-academic work. As a result of this the schools, which once nurtured good students and a promised a bright future for the Mumbai city, are dying now.

 

The builders and profiteering private institutions will capture the lands of BMC schools, similar to what happened with the Cotton mills in 1982.

 

Due to this policy of ‘school adoption’ the NGOs run by Indian and Foreign Multinationals will decide what our children should study, how they should study and who should teach them.

 

Institutions like IITs and Central schools have a good quality and they have been established by the Government itself. So if the BMC/government decides, they can improve the condition of BMC schools also. Instead of that they are degrading the schools further.

 

Today Mumbai Municipal Corporation provides education in 8 Indian Languages to 4 lakh students through 11000 teachers. NGOs provide substandard education of English by promising English medium education. This type of education is stunting the growth of language skills and independent thinking among students.  This is an attack on the future of our country, on the Dalits, Working class and Minorities.

 

If we do not get up today, tomorrow it may be too late. No NGO or private organization running for profit can provide free, compulsory and good quality education to all the children. That can be done only by a publicly funded, pro-people education system. So today the people of Maharashtra need to wake up and wage a struggle to strike down this decision. The only alternative to today’s unequal, discriminatory education system is a K.G. to P.G. publicly funded Common School System based on Neighbourhood schools. So do join us in the demonstrations on 16th of March 2013, at 12:30 pm at Azad Maidan!

 

Demands

 

  • Cancel the privatization of BMC schools
  • BMC must provide Free, Compulsory and Equal quality education to all children upto 12th standard.

 

Yours,

 

All participating organizations, parties in Mumbai

 

Aapli Mumbai, AISA, Indian Social Movement, India Against Corruption, AIRSO, AISF, Kokanastha Dalit Mahila Sanghatana, Ghar Bachao Ghar Banao Andolan, Janata Dal (Secular), Jaitapur Anuprakalp Virodhi Samitee, TDF, Parivartan Shikshan Sanstha, Phule Ambedkar Rashtriya Vidyarthi Sanghatana, Bhareep Bahujan Mahasangh, Communist Party of India, Maharashtra Sarva Shramik Sangh, Maagasavargeey Vidyarthi-Paalak Adhikar Sangharsha Samitee, Mumbai Municipal Kamgaar Sangh, Mumbai Municipal Kaamgar Karmacharee Purogamee Union, Mumbai Electric Employees Union, Muktiyaan Loksanskrutik Sanghatanaa, Yusuf Meherally Center, Yuva Biradaree, Replublican Panther, Rashtra Seva Dal, Vidyarthee Bharatee, Shikshan Vyaapaareekaran Virodhi Manch, Shikshan Bajareekaran Virodhi Manch, Samaan Shikshan Mulabhoot Adhikar Samitee(Mumbai), Samaan Shikshan Mulabhoot Adhikaar Samitee(Bhivandi), CPI(ML, Liberation), CPI(ML, Red Flag), Yuva Bharat, Samaajvadee Janparishad, Sant Rohidas Vichar Manch

 

Mumbai Shikshan Kampanikaran Virodhi Abhiyaan

 

With

 

All India Forum for Right to Education

 

Yusuf Meherali Center, D-15, Ganesh Prasad, Naushir Bharucha Marg, Grant Road(W), Mumbai 400007. Phone: 23870097 Email: yusufmeherally@gmail.com

 

 

 

Statewide Campaign in Maharashtra against Privatisation of BMC Schools


The Greater Mumbai Municipal Corporation took a decision to handover all their around 1200 schools to private players under Public Private Partnership. This is an unprecedented decision in the annuls off Indian independent history that a statutory body hand over all its schools to private operators. It is a major step in direction of disowning the responsibility of providing education to the citizens (children), a constitutional obligation on Indian state. This decision involves transfer of hundreds of millions of Rupees of the public assets to private hands in form of buildings and lot of prime land in Mumbai. This, in brief, involves 1) Neo-liberal policy of disowning the responsibility by state and 2) Siphoning of public assets and funds to private operators.
 
However, people of Mumbai and Maharashtra are not ready to take it lying. They are preparing to organize statewide protest until the decision is thwarted. Mumbai Municipal Corporation sent its decisions for approval of the state government. Now, people of Maharashtra demanding the chief minister not to give his consent.
 
The eight member organisations of All India Forum for Right to Education working in Maharashtra met on 26th of January, 2013 to initiate a statewide struggle against the decision of the Mumbai municipal Corporation. The meeting was convened by Shri Arvind Vaidya (member, national executive, AIFRTE – Mumbai). The meeting was attended by seven out of eight organisations. (One orrganisation could not attend under unavoidable conditions.) The meeting was also attended by Prof. Anil Sadgopal [Member, Presidium, AIFRTE] and Shri D. Ramesh Patnaik [Organising Secretary, AIFRTE]. Prof. Anil Sadgopal is closely guiding the movement on behalf of All India Forum for Right to Ecuation.
The meeting took a decision to convene all organisations in the state who are ready to fight against the onslaught on public education system. The propose extended meeting was organised on 10th February. 
 
Invitation was sent to many organisations which oppose commercialization of education, Neo-liberal policy of public private partnership, Neo-liberal foreign funding, Communalism and stand in support of public education system at all levels and for diversity of cultures.    Seventeen organisations attended this meeting. An organizing committee was formed with the representatives of all the organisations. A three member ( Arvind Vaidya, Dr Milind Wagh and Neeraj Jain) convening committee and a correspondent (Shyam Sonar) were appointed by the organizing committee. This meeting was attended, again, by Prof. Anil Sadgopal. Dr. Vikram Singh Amarawat, office Secretary, AIFRTE also attended the meeting.
The above meeting on 10th of February took momentous decision to take up the campaign widely and intensively. A schedule of activities is prepared. As a part of campaign, a delegation of men of letters in the state on behalf of the campaign is going to meet the the Chief Minister shortly to ask him not to give consent to the decision of the BMC to privatize the 1200 schools.
 
You will listen many more developments of the campaign.
Please contact comrade Shyam Sonar <shyam.panther@gmail.com>, 08080829499 to know developments and also to support the movement.
 
regards
D. Ramesh Patnaik,
Organising Secretary,
All India Forum for Right To Education   

 

 

Press Release Mumbai’s urban poor’s 10 Days long struggle ends with victory #Landscam


 

NEW PEOPLE’S COMMISSION ON LAND SCAM

ENQUIRY INTO SRA SCAMS DECLARED

Mumbai, 10th : Ghar Bachao ghar Banao Andolan withdraws its 10 days long agitation, after having received certain concrete decisions and directions for further process on the issues related to housing rights and land scam with corruption in Mumbai.

The State Government has agreed to enquiry by the Principal Secretary, Housing into SRA projects in 6 localities- Golibar, Ambedkar Nagar, Mulud, Ramnagar-Ghatkopar, Chandivali, Sion-koliwada and Indira-nagar Jogeshwari, defining the modus operandis involving all stakeholders and holding public hearings.

Today, hundreds of women and men from various slums reached Mantralaya. They insisted and made their way into Mantralaya, upto 6thfloor and at least 500 people filed their individual applications for Rajiv Awas.

The State has also taken and conveyed a firm decision to take RAY ahead and Mandala RAY project proposal to the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai.

The Municipal Corporation of Mumbai through the Commissioner, has agreed to provide all amenities in slums we have listed from eastern and western suburbs as per 5- A of Slum Act, a review for the same will be carried in next 7 days.

It’s promised by MCGM to look into the violations of law, if any in Sion Koliwada and Jeevannapar redevelopment projects as well as wherever public amenities are destroyed before people getting shifted out.

MCGM has promised to hold meeting of officials and consider our recommendations to hold public hearings at level of community / unit of 3000 families, during development planning process- Existing and Planned Land Use.

With all the issues responded to, the Andolan decided to step back and out of Azad Maidan but with a warning that if all decisions are implemented and promises not fulfilled, we will march straight to Mantralaya with intensified struggle.

10 days long battle converted Azad Maidan into a battleground, but with much creative activities beginning with prayer in the morning and spirited songs till late night. Young activists burnt candles at night and returned with mashaals to their homes, only to return back early in the morning. Food came from different communities in slums as well as from supporter organisations. This andolan paved a new way in the arena of people’s movements.

 

 

Medha Patkar, Jamil bhai, Madhuri Shivkar, Madhuri Variyath, Sumit Wajale, Santosh Thorat, Sandeep Yevale, Kishor Kardak, Girija Bahen,  Prabhakar Narkar, Shilpa Sabale, Kamlesh S S, Siraj, Umar bhai, 

Organised by : Ghar Bachao Ghar Banao Andolan, Janta Jagruti Manch, Shahar Vikas Manch, Ramabai Ambedkar Nagar Bachao Samiti, Nagari Niwara Haq Samiti, Waghini Sangathan, SRA Sangharsh Samiti, Bruhanmumbai Niwara Samanvaya Samiti

 

Affiliates of National Alliance of Peoples’ Movements

 

Contact: Madhuri Shivkar 09892143242 | Madhuri Wariyath 09820619174 | Sumit Wajale 09967875999 | Sandeep Yevale 09819307419

 

Previous Press Releases on this campaign :

Ghar Bachao Andolan Exposes Massive Land Scam and Corruption in Mumbai Slums, Sit in Continues in…

Ghar Bachao Ghar Banao Andolan Continues, Thousands Continue their Sit-in at Azad Maidan, Mumbai

Thousands of Mumbaikars March towards Mantralaya Claiming Dignity and Equal Rights to City

A Sea of people marched on Streets of Mumbai to reach Mantralaya

Thousands of Mumbai’s Urban Poor to begin new year with long march on foot to Mantrayala

 

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.

 

 

Dowry Death – Husband arrested , North Delhi councillor, daughter found dead #VAW


PTI

Delhi Police on Friday arrested the husband of Delhi Municipal Councillor Satyam Yadav who committed suicide on Thursday. Yadav’s husband Pawan has been arrested under charges of 498A, 304B which pertain to domestic violence and dowry death.

The police said that a few other members of his family have been charged but they are absconding. A case of murder has also been registered against unknown people for the death of the councillor’s 18-month-old baby.

North Delhi councillor, daughter found dead

SHUBHOMOY SIKDAR, The Hindu

Grieving relatives of Municipal Councillor Satyam Yadav (photo inset) who was found dead at her residence in Delhi on Thursday. Photo: Shiv Kumar Pushpakar
The HinduGrieving relatives of Municipal Councillor Satyam Yadav (photo inset) who was found dead at her residence in Delhi on Thursday. Photo: Shiv Kumar Pushpakar

A sitting woman councillor of the North Delhi Municipal Corporation, Satyam Yadav, and her 18-month-old daughter were found dead under mysterious circumstances at their residence in Nangloi on Thursday. The Delhi Police have registered a case of dowry death and murder. Ironically, the day also happened to be Satyam’s birthday.

The victim’s family members alleged that her in-laws and husband had been harassing her for dowry and that they were behind the two deaths. One of them also claimed that her in-laws were not happy at her having given birth to a daughter.

Twenty-seven-year-old Satyam Yadav was the Councillor from Nangloi East ward (No.43) of the Municipal Corporation.

According to the police, Satyam, who was elected on Congress ticket in the municipal elections held in April this year, was last seen alive on Wednesday night. She along with her daughter Vanshika had gone to sleep on the second floor of their two-storey house around 11-30 p.m. Her husband Pawan Yadav stayed on the first floor as he was looking after his ailing mother, said the police.

“Around 8 a.m. on Thursday the family members knocked at the door of her room which was bolted from inside but there was no response. Later they managed to open the door and found Satyam hanging from the ceiling fan and her daughter Vanshika lying unconscious on the bed,” said a police officer.

A call was made to the Police Control Room around 8-30 a.m. The police claimed that the family rushed Vanshika to a nearby hospital where she was declared brought dead.

Satyam, who hailed from Bulandshahr district of Uttar Pradesh, had come to Delhi after marrying Pawan Yadav in February 2010.

Pawan is a school teacher and his father Lalaram Yadav is in politics. The couple had their first and only child, Vanshika, in 2011.

The police informed the area Sub-Divisional Magistrate about the incident following which inquest proceedings were initiated into the matter.

Satyam’s brother-in-law Sunil Yadav said that since her marriage Satyam was often humiliated for dowry by her husband and his parents. “They used to put pressure on Satyam and there were constant demands for dowry since her marriage. They often told her that Pawan had turned down marriage proposals from girls whose families were ready to pay more money as dowry,” said Sunil.

Sunil also said that Satyam, who had completed her post-graduation and B.Ed. thereafter, was never inclined to join politics and wanted to become a teacher instead and that she had even applied for a teaching job in Uttar Pradesh after her marriage.

“She was forced to contest the civic elections by her family as due to the ward being a reserved constituency (for women), her father-in-law could not. Her mother-in-law, who was the second choice candidate, had to pull out as some of her documents were not complete,” he said.

Satyam’s brother Prashant Singh, who is a school teacher in Delhi, said Pawan’s family were also unhappy with the fact that Satyam had given birth to a girl child as they wanted a son.

Neighbours said that despite being a public figure, Satyam was rarely seen outside her house and was not very active even during her election campaign. They, however, said that it never appeared to them that there were problems between the couple.

The police said that prima facie the cause of the mother-daughter death appears to be strangulation. Ligature marks were found round the necks of both.

Post-mortems have been conducted and the bodies would be taken to Satyam’s native place Bulandshahr for cremation.

A case has been registered under the sections related to dowry death and murder, said the police. Efforts are on to ascertain whether Satyam first strangled Vanshika and then hanged herself or if someone else murdered both.

 

Invitation- Oct 6th Meeting on #Mumbai Development Plan Revision Process 2012 #mustshare


Meeting to develop intervention strategies for public participation in Mumbai DP revision process

 

 

Many individuals and organizations in the city have been working on various issues relating to the development plan revision process but the Municipal Corporation has not accorded any recognization to them. As a matter of fact the Corporation has no intention, as it seems till now, to allow people’s participation in the DP revision process. It seems that the development plan department of the Corporation is carrying-out the revision process through a FrenchIndian Consultancy Company only through the expert advice of our appointed committee.

 

We firmly believe that the new development plan that is to be launched in 2014, must reflect the needs and aspirations of all the people of the city and not based on the ideas of few officials of the Corporation and the government. It is shocking to know that even the survey of existing land-use that is being carried-out by the French-Indian Consultancy company is ridden with major mistakes and discrepancies.

 

In order to challenge this exclusive DP revision process and to demand a participatory frame-work,  several groups have decided to call a wider citizens meeting. The agenda of the meeting would be to discuss threadbare various aspects of a participatory frame-work for the survey of the existing land use and subsequently for the preparation of the new Development Plan.

 

Development plan defines the land-use in the city thereby and thereby greatly affecting our lives. We all have to actively intervene in this revision process and facilitate a wider public dialogue and participation.

 

We therefore request you to kindly make it a point to attend this meeting on Saturday, 6th October. Also please invite representatives of citizens associations, ALMs and NGOs who you think would be interested in participating in this discussion.

 

 

Meeting Date: 6th October, 2012

 

Time: 3.30 p.m. – 7.00 p.m.

 

Venue: Vanmaali Hall, 3rd Floor, Dadar (W), Mumbai

Organizers

 Akshara, Beghar Adhikar Abhiyaan, CCDT, Maharastra Machimar Kruthi Samithi, Mumbai Nagrik Vikas Manch, Nivara Hakk  Open Mumbai, SOS, Shahar Vikas Manch, TISS, UDRI, YUVA………………. and many more.

 for more information contact-dhanraj.k@yuvaindia.org

 

Private Organisations can now adopt BMC schools- FIRST STEP towards privatisation of Education in Mumbai


STORY HIGHLIGHTS
By Jai Maharashtra News | 26 Jul Thu, 2012

Mumbai: In a move that could be  MOST DISADVANTAGEOUS  ( orginal post says advantageous) to students of municipal schools as well as to the government, the ruling parties Shiv Sena and BJP in the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has taken the decision to let civic schools be run by private educational institutions.

The proposal for this decision was first put forward 2 weeks ago, on the 11th of July, and the final nod came from the standing committee of the BMC on Wednesday 25th July. This was seen as a welcome move to improve the quality of education in state run government schools.

According to the decision, a private Non Governmental Organization (NGO) can select one civic school, and after approval, it will be responsible for recruitment of teaching and non teaching staff, as well as the overall functioning of the school. However, all other matters of the administration, as well as student enrollment will still be handled by the BMC.

Although some members from the Opposition were against this move, stating that the BMC was attempting to shirk its responsibility, it was pointed out that by Vitthal Kharatmol, BJP councillor and education committee chief chairman, that the move would help the students from civic schools to come up on par with better educational institutions, and would remove the inferiority complex that is associated with civic schools. Additionally, since there was no more open land for building more schools, it was hoped that this move would help make most of the existing educational land.

Many members of the opposition reacted strongly to this proposed decision while it was still under discussion, including Congressman Asif Zakaria, who sarcastically inquired whether the next move by the BMC would be to outsource its roads too. Samajwadi Party group leader Rais Sheikh said that managing civis scolls was the sole responsibility of the BMC under the Mumbai Municipal Corporation Act (MMC).

The additional municipal commissioner Mohan Adtani also promised that the civic schools would still be under the control of the BMC, and that despite the provision of better facilities by the NGO, the students would still be enrolled free of charge and not be asked to pay fees for their education. “Students will not be denied educational facilities,” he said. The ruling party asserted that far from trying to get out of their responsibility to provide free primary education to the poorer sections of society, the move would elevate the quality of teaching as well as the morale of students from civic schools.

There are currently more than 1,139 civic run schools in the state, and the attendance rates are not as good as the government would have wanted it to be.

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