Mumbai – Why this Hypocrisy? #slumdemolitions


 

The demolitions in Ali talao, Kharodi, Malvani. Malad W. P north ward

The background

The informal settlement with about 300 households gets its name from Ali talao (a pond) situated next to the basti. Ali talao basti has been in existence for more than 6 years now. Epitome of how any post-2005 basti will be like; it has people from all corners of the country, Tamils, UP walas, Bihars, Marathis and other migrants who flock to the city in a bid to survive our country’s rural deprivation. Situated in one of the most underdeveloped wards of Mumbai– P north; it was only recently that the settlement obtained some sort of services in the form of electricity. But compared to the rosy picture painted of Mumbai, and its imminent World-classness, this settlement was still without water and other basic services. The settlement stood on public land (NDZ) as per the 1991 Development Plan (DP), and has been now demolished 6 times in its short span of six years, and once it was burned, allegedly by the authorities themselves.

The demolition and the current crisis

There were no demolition notices, only threat orders and summoning from the police station thus raising apprehension of an impending demolition. Kharodi Ali talao was razed – again – on 20th May 2013. With about 1000 souls living in open tents, Ali talao now looks like refugee camp. The demolitions violated many principles as laid out in the UN Principles and Guidelines on Evictions and Displacement. (http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Housing/Pages/ForcedEvictions.aspx). They now are under constant threat from the police who have put barricades around the site and are warning them from reoccupying the land. The families- like in the earlier instances- were not ready to move from the demolition site. To counter this, yesterday morning, the police rounded up more than 100 people (including children) from the settlement and held them hostage in the police station till late night- threatening with violence and adverse consequences if they do not vacate their demolished homes. In the night, 19 people were officially arrested and detained for the night and were produced in the court today morning; the arrested included 13 women. Some now have been released on a hefty bail of Rs 10,000, and 4 women belonging to the minority community face being jailed as they do not have such a large sum to pay-off. Perfect example of how our law and order system is employed to punish and incarcerate the poorest of the poor struggling to make their ends meet.

The Existing Land Use (ELU) survey and the ‘cleansed’ Development Plan (2014-34)

Ali talao residents in the last couple of months have given countless letters to the BMC to include them in the Development Plan revision process. They were happy that their settlement was mapped on the Existing Land Use (ELU) survey, which they considered as the first step to legalization! But unfortunately, the state is now on a demolition drive as if to correct the ELU where some informal settlements were mapped. It seems that rather than being obliged to offer a solution to the marginalized communities mapped in the ELU survey, it is using the same ELU to locate and demolish them using the draconian 1995 January cut-off date. This method of cleansing and planning is detrimental to this city, when about 25 lakh or about 20% of the city lives in informal settlements that have emerged after 1995. And we know that it impossible to rid the city of its 20% citizenry. But then we all are astonished on why some communities are selected and erased of the planning process.

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By- Aravind Unni, YUVA,

 

Usha Uthup , Legendary Rockstar took the Mumbai #TimesLitCarn by Storm !!


usha
 
Dec9, 2012, Mumbai
 
 It was a longgg wait , Waiting for 45 minutes outside the door of the hall, of people screaming, the time headlines will be ‘ Usha Uthup Live, and the audience dead”, everyone laughing,  peopel tired of waiting. Then doing some time pass withs ecurity guards, to open teh door , and atleats allow some ac hawa outside ;-). As teh door opened a little bit, I shouted –”someone fainted , here opene the door ,  this hulchal going on as  Usha Uthup  did her technical sound check  in side the hall. The serpentine queue just  grew by every second, jostling each other and asking volunteers how much more time ? how much more time ?.
Bachi Karkaria came and security guard said, Madam, sorry you cant go “. arey she is the event organiser, and she very sweetly said, they dont know me , and she went in, as we put a tsamp of authority, that she should eb allowed as she is event organizer, hahahahaha
 Bachi Karkaria came out, we all screamed how much more time ,   ten minutes  she said and we all started chanting the  ten minutes , our patience running out…. bhaag hi gayi…… and ….
Finally, door opened I ran to take the best place right in front, as I had to take a few videos and see and hear her clear as crystal.
The legendary  Rock star can just touch heart of eight year old and an eighty year old as well. The teenagers swinging to her tunes, whistling, at her sense of humor.No oen just no One can perform om stage as HER , a live wire ,
Usha Uthup remembering, R D Burman she said, she was potted by by him in 1969 at gazebo and at that time she did not know , who R D Burman, later they became great friends. R D Burman wrote a song her exclusively,buts sadly she could nto sing the song, for various reasons, but was penned for her.
The song was.. ‘ Duniya main logon ko…………….. monica oh my darling…. in the begining of song there is yoddleling.. two types. Usha she  called out to me from stage to yoodle with her, that was a golden moment freezed the audience were  divdied into right and left and she gave us two types of yoddling for her songs..
As  I  I am  a big mouth, with a karari avaaz, needless to say I  was and still am  loudest in my group and Usha Uthup said from stage. Hey you in red, come up… and yoddle , and  I was like what ? who me ?/ yes you ??? and there iI went jumping up da stage ;-). Another girl from other side was called too .
One was low paparaapapa/…..one was high…parrappara…. cam  ein my lap, and I think i did do justice for my group, and got the shabashi FROM  her, when she said in her signature style ‘ super amma “, and then started all masti magic of usha Uthup.
 The Gregarious performer Usha Uthup  rcoked the mehboob studios  with her powerful singing .She also shared many anecdotes, saying, “I’m probably the only one here today who has recorded songs at Mehboob Studios.”
 Did you know that Usha Uthup wears Sports shoes with kanjeevaram embroidery ?
She  REVEALED THAT  she wears sports shoes with embroidered kanjeevaram motifs on them! She said she has cut borders from some of her saris and stuck them on her shoes so that they all add to her appearance!, ‘ ISNT THAT KOOL” ahaan .. sure it is 😉
Regarding her jewellery she shouted’ . ‘ How do you like my gold jewellery” we all shouted love it, and she said , I have given it to Bappi Lahiri and just have gold inside, my heart 😉
 Rearading her trademark  S aree,  she shared that many people earlier thought that it was my  publicity stunt a marketing strategy, and Sshe said  , ‘ I  was born in a middle class family where all women wore sarees, clap clap went the sudience, and hey do you see how i I show my pallu ??? , she said getting pallu ahead in style , which covered her each inch of body  and she said , ‘ Obviously , I dont want cameraman to catch my belly  tyres…. hahahahahah went on the crowd .
The night went on with jokes, music and dance , unforgettable and golden moment etched with a tinge of .. kaash it never ended
We all danced to darling………………….. and bom bombay bombay meri hai !!!
Just wished night would never end,
and  Usha Uthup would not stop singing
and
I would not stop dancing…………
Below are some videos

 

Loot of Indias coal deposits by domestic and foreign companies


Dear friendsBetween 1993 and June 2011, Govt. of India has allotted 195 coal blocks to 289 private companies in lieu of nominal royalty on 30 years lease. Through this allotment, countrys coal deposit of nearly 43346.357 million ton which today is valued at Rs 13003907.10 crores is being handed over for plunder to domestic and foreign companies which will make huge profit in 433463.57 crores per annum

Indias total coal deposits are estimated to be of 2,85,862.21 million tons, which at todays market price of coal are valued at Rs. 85,75,8663 crores. The government is doing this on the name of development. If coal mines are given in this way, than every year nearly Rs. 28,58,622 crores will be looted which is two times of governments national budget.

In Govt. allotted 289 coal blocks, 189 coal blocks has gone to private companies in 2004 to 2011, and some new coal blocks are still to be allotted. Till date, 1515 proposals from private companies working in the field of electricity, steel and cement are lying with the government on which final decision is yet to be taken.

Interim Report of CAG says that between 2004 to 2011, due to non-exploration of coal by the allottees, a loss of Rs. 10,67,000 crores to public exchequer is done. This fact proves above prospects of loot are correct. To give benefit to companies, not doing open bidding is a crime, but the question is not of doing open bidding, it is of more importance as who is the real owner of this coal? And whether the government has a right to give this largesse to companies for loot.

Companies are doing this loot in collusion with the government, which under their pressure has changed Coal Act, giving this loot a legal facade. Firstly, by doing amendments in Coal Mines Nationalisation Act, private captive mines are allotted coal blocks. After that the companies working in the field of electricity, steel and cement are also included in this list. A provision was further made to allot coal blocks for coal gasification and liquidation. Than removing the captive restriction, directly or through Public- Private Partnership (PPP), the coal mines were handed over to private companies. In this way a well planned scheme to make loot of coal deposits easy was prepared. This loot is being attempted by rejecting country’s people ownership over coal, by misguiding and forcibly displacing Adivasis and to ensure this loot, the government of India under pressure from private companies has changed the Coal Act. It is clear that these changes are made to bring benefits to them.

Therefore, the people themselves have to come forward now for saving this precious natural resource. On the one hand, inequality, malnutrition, poverty, unemployment are incrcasing continuously, and on the other countrys governments are handing over this huge wealth to the corporates for plunder. The governments are befooling the public by giving name of development to this plunder. The richness of some private companies is not the development. The true development lies in richness of all.

It is also not correct to give coal exploration free of cost to the public sector companies. In this way resources are again used for the benefit of rich. In a country where half of the population is homeless, where 40% people do not have electricity in their homes, where 70% people use only 1 unit of electricity daily, what kind of benefit they will get on this exploitation of coal and other resources in the name of development? This is bringing all kind of material consumption only to the rich. Private companies, beaurocracy and other elites and affluent sections of society, who consume natural resources in vast quantities, really get benefits. Those millions of people, who toil hard day and night for their livelihood, get nothing.

Azadi Bachao Andolan believes this handing over of resources to corporates after taking them away forcibly from farmers and adivasis is immoral and unconstitutional and oppose this. Andolan is already involved in mass movements for establishing people’s ownership over resources in the states of Jharkhand, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh. Andolan is now going to further spread this movement in the coal rich states of Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Orissa, Madhya Pradesh and Maharastra. Through this movement, Andolan appeals to public that to stop this plunder, people should take resolve that community ownership over coal is ours, which we will claim through Gram Sabhas. For country’s need, we will mine coal ourselves, but we do not allow any company to mine this coal. Andolan is making appeal to people to take resolve by taking coal in their hand at public places. As thousand of people did in Karnapura area of Hazaribagh in Jharkhand on 10th April. Not only coal but other resources like forest, water, land and minerals are being allowed to plunder after taking them away from people. This plunder is many times bigger than what was done by Britishers in colonial India. Azadi Bachao Andolan appeals that now the time has come for local community to assert their ownership right over resources through their Gram Sabhas and be ready for further struggle. All natural resources belong to Gram Sabhas. In Indian democracy, constitution bestows a role of trusteeship on the government. Any trustee institution does not have the right to snatch away peoples rights and give them to companies for private gain. Companies could not have ownership over them.

Through this campaign to establish peoples ownership over resources, we appeal to the people in their larger interest to be ready for civil disobedience movement-

1.For establishing through Gram Sabhas peoples communities ownership over coal, countrys common men express their public resolve.

2.All mines given to private companies be taken back.

3.Name of Board Directors and name of Beneficiaries of Ownership of these companies, which are allotted coal blocks be made public.

4.Names of those companies and of their share holders which have come via Mauritus route be also made public.

Respectfully
Dr. Mithilesh Dangi, Vivekanand Mathane, Manoj Tyagi
Phone : 09235406243
e-mail : azadi.bachao.andolan@gmail.com
National Office : 21-B, Moti Lal Nehru Road,
Allahabad-211002

Video of Republic Day protest against Gallantry awards in San Francisco


Concerned citizens and friends of India organized a peaceful protest in San Francisco outside the venue of the official Republic Day function hosted by the Indian Consulate which was expected to be attended by around 400 invitees – the movers and shakers of the Indian community as well as local politicians. Much to our satisfaction, we were able to engage in one-on-one conversations with many of the attendees outside the venue and distribute flyers. Many of them signed our petition and many more were sympathetic.

The petition is as follows

Every year on the 26th of January, we celebrate the Constitution of India [1]. Every 30th of January, we remember the martyrdom of Mahatma Gandhi, who led India to freedom. However, for the vast majority of the people of India, even the most basic of the rights guaranteed by the Constitution – the right to life and personal liberty and due legal process if these rights are to be abridged – remain unrealized promises. And the ideals of the independence struggle, as articulated by Gandhi, stand indelibly tarnished.

One of the most shocking recent instances of this trampling upon the Indian constitution is the torture and sexual abuse of prisoner Soni Sori [2,3]. An adivasi school teacher from the Dantewada district of Chhattisgarh, Sori had exposed evidence of police misconduct in the framing of several cases against her [4]. Police intimidation forced her to flee, and she reached Delhi seeking legal assistance, but was arrested before she could file a petition in the Supreme Court. Fearing for her life in Chhattisgarh, she asked to be held in custody in Delhi, despite which she was handed over to the Chhattisgarh police [5]. In custody, Soni Sori was brutally tortured by the Chhattisgarh police, because of her refusal to corroborate their false statements. A subsequent independent medical examination found sizable stones lodged in her vagina and her rectum and severe damage to her spinal cord [6].

Another instance is the case of Lingaram Kodopi. In 2009, Kodopi was locked up by the police in Dantewada, Chhattisgarh for 40 days, tortured and pressured to join a vigilante force [7]. After the High Court ordered his release, Lingaram went on to complete a course in journalism, and later documented villagers’ accounts of arson, murder and rape during a three-day police operation in March 2011. In September 2011, Lingaram was arrested on charges of collecting ‘protection’ money for the Maoists from Essar, a large business conglomerate. Sori, his aunt, came under pressure from the police to persuade Lingaram to accept the charges. She refused, saying the charges were false and ended up being an accused herself. Amnesty International has pronounced both Sori and Kodopi, Prisoners of Conscience [8].

Sori’s and Kodopi’s are not isolated cases. Authorities in various parts of India have a record of imprisoning innocent people, including human rights workers, on false charges, the most notable case being that of Dr. Binayak Sen. Dr. Sen was convicted of ‘sedition’, and sentenced to life imprisonment, but released by the Supreme Court on bail, pending appeal [9]. Many other innocent people, mostly from marginalized sections of the society, continue to languish in India’s jails; Adivasi activist Kartam Joga [10] and labor leaders, Bhagwati Sahu [11] and Abhay Sahoo [12], are just some of them. Others like Kopa Kunjam [13] and documentarian Ajay TG [14] were released on bail and are awaiting trial. Arun Ferreira, a social and human rights activist, was acquitted in 11 different cases for lack of evidence, but re-arrested each time on a fresh set of charges, until he was finally released on bail on the 4th January [15].

In custody, Soni Sori was pressured by the police to implicate many prominent human rights activists as Maoists [16]. Though Sori resisted the pressure, other news reports indicate a concerted attempt on the part of the state to stigmatize human rights defenders [17]. This was a serious concern placed on record by Margaret Sekaggya, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders, after the completion of a mission to India a year ago [18].

The gross misconduct of the police is enabled by several draconian laws of questionable Constitutional validity, such as the law against sedition in the Indian Penal Code [19], the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act [20], the Armed Forces Special Powers Act [21] and state-specific laws such as the Chhattisgarh Special Public Security Act (CSPSA) [22]. These laws are intended to help the police to bring charges against anyone on no or the flimsiest of evidence or to arrest and detain people for extended periods without charges or evidence. This process of filing false charges and detention based on them, is being used as a punitive tool in itself.

Where there are credible reports of torture or of other grave misconduct by the police, rarely have the police authorities been investigated, or the democratically elected representatives sanctioning systemic abuses held accountable [23].

Therefore, we demand that:

Torture and other prisoner abuses must stop

Intimidation of Human Rights Defenders must end

The practice of filing false charges, extended detentions without trial, and “arrest, detention and trial” as punishment must end

The law against sedition (Section 124A of Indian Penal Code) be abolished

Laws which give unconditional and unchecked power to the authorities, such as UAPA, AFSPA and CSPSA, be abolished

Soni Sori and Lingaram Kodopi be released immediately and unconditionally

Police and higher level government officials responsible for torturing and pressuring Soni Sori be prosecuted

Pl sign petition here

Below is a short  video (3 min) of the  Republic Day protest against Gallantry awards in San Francisco

Archives

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