#India – Property rights bill for slum dwellers sought


HYDERABAD, June 13, 2013

Staff Reporter, The Hindu 

Urban housing activists under the banner of the Campaign for Housing and Tenurial Rights (CHATRI) sought immediate enactment of property rights for slum dwellers as envisaged in the Rajiv Awas Yojana guidelines.

At a press conference on Wednesday, activists from Human Rights Forum and Montfort Social Institute’s Housing Rights Network among others, sought immediate tabling of the draft bill for the AP Property Rights to Slum Dwellers Act, 2011. The bill had been pending for the past two Assembly sessions, they said, and demanded that the authorities bring the legislation in the current session. The activists also wanted re-assessment of slums in the State, as many areas notified earlier no longer qualified as slums.

“Priority will be given to the already developed slums once funds begin to arrive from the Centre. We demand that priority in terms of energy and funds be given from bottom upwards,” said Director of the Montfort Social Institute, Varghese Thekanath.

Showing Keshav Nagar chosen for RAY pilot project as an example of official preferences, he said the colony did not qualify as a slum, as all the houses were built under Indira Awas Yojana, and each beneficiary already had pattas for 60 yards.

“The colony was built in 14 acres of prime land. Now all the houses will be demolished, for construction of G-plus-three houses within four acres. The remaining 10 acres will be at government’s disposal for allotment to commercial complexes,” Mr. Thekanath said.

‘Emulate T.N. model’

He also asked the State government to emulate the Tamil Nadu model and reduce beneficiary contribution to 10 per cent of the total cost, which again could be taken as contribution of direct labour, than cash.

 

Mumbai- Houses Demolished, Thousands Left to Fend for Themselves


Brazen Violation of Existing Norms, Ongoing Investigations by Maharashtra Government in Mumbai

Houses Demolished just Before Start of Monsoon, Thousands Left to Fend for Themselves

Mumbai, June 4: With the onset of pre-monsoon, the slums in Mumbai have been witness tobulldozers and police brutality as today i.e 4th June saw bulldozers moving over the houses at Ganpat Patil Nagar, Sanjay Nagar, Indira Nagar, Adarsh Nagar – Mumbai. Around 250 houses were demolished at Ganpat Patil Nagar and more than 300 houses were broken down at Adarsh Nagar-Indira Nagar & Sanjay Nagar. As always, the police force was present in huge numbers and disrespectful to the protestors that included men, women, children and the aged, even the pregnant ladies were not excused of high handedness. With the onset of the monsoon, the vulnerability is increased as these families have no roof over their heads and their belongings either crushed or lying here and there.

The demolition drive at Ganpat Patil Nagar was done under the pretext of ‘protecting mangroves’ as per the orders of the Bombay High Court which not at all had said anything about demolishing slums. The over enthusiasm shown by the local MLA of Shiv Sena – Vinod Ghosalkar in demolishing this slum and evicting the families from the land exposes the nexus with the land mafia which wants to transform this locality into high rise buildings and towers. Even the Forest Department has informed that they do not want for demolition of slums but only protection of mangroves.

At Indira Nagar, Adarsh Nagar & Sanjay Nagar, the demolitions were done under the excuse of widening the nala (sewerage) but that remains an excuse only as last year also, during the same period a demolition drive was undertaken for the purpose of expanding the nala which never happened. Activist Siraj Ahmed was detained by the local police when he led the slum dwellers in protest to the demolition.

Most shocking and deplorable is the fact that in January this year, no less than the Chief Minister of Maharashtra & Chief Secretary had promised to under take a survey of the these settlement for the purpose of declaring them as slums and provisioning of basic amenities. Instead of water pipe lines and toilet blocks they have sent bulldozers and police force. It seems that the slogan of ‘slum free india’ is to be realised by bulldozing the existing slums and not be upgrading or resettling them.

It is apprehended that the demolition squad might again come tomorrow, though the slum dwellers are firm in their resolve to resist and fight against the bulldozers as well as the rules that make such deplorable acts possible.

Sumit Wajale Siraj Ahmed Sangeeta Kamble Jamil Bhai

Contact : 9892727063

National Alliance of People’s Movements
National Office : 6/6, Jangpura B, Mathura RoadNew Delhi 110014
Phone : 011 26241167 / 24354737 Mobile : 09818905316
Web : http://www.napm-india.org

Facebook : http://www.facebook.com/NAPMindia
Twitter : @napmindia

 

Despite Union minister’s letter, 43 houses demolished in Mumbai #Ajaymaken


STAFF REPORTER, The Hindu, April3, 2013 

A protest rally in front of Maharashtra Sadan in New Delhi against demolition of Golibar slum in Mumbai. A file photo: V. Sudershan.
The HinduA protest rally in front of Maharashtra Sadan in New Delhi against demolition of Golibar slum in Mumbai. A file photo: V. Sudershan.

Paying no heed to the letter from Ajay Maken, Minister of Housing & Urban Poverty Alleviation asking the Chief Minister of Maharashtra to stop demolition of the houses of slum dwellers, around 43 houses were demolished under the supervision from the collector’s office at Mumbai’s Golibar slum on Wednesday.

The activists of National Alliance of People’s Movement (NAPM) have alleged that the Shivalik Ventures, the developer of prime property of 125 acres called Golibar in suburban Mumbai, in connivance with government officials carried out the demolition.

The Golibar Project has been surrounded by controversy from last five years after it was alleged that the Shivalik Ventures has forged various documents to secure consent of the slum dwellers. Also the houses built for rehabilitation are on the lands of Railways and Defence ministry. The Defence ministry has approached the court, claiming its right on the land and the Railways have taken an undertaking that the buildings will be demolished whenever it requires the land back.

On Tuesday, Mr. Maken had sent a letter to Prithviraj Chavan, which said, “I however, would request you to also ensure that wherever, as in these six Slum Rehabilitation Scheme (SRS) projects under inquiry, there are prima facie illegality, no irreversible damage or eviction of residents should be permitted to be done with police force – the aim solely being that of protecting the already marginalised urban poor.” The Golibar Project is one of the six projects in which inquiry has been ordered.

The government officials however said that they did not receive any instruction from the chief minister office. “If the letter has been sent to chief minister then his office will send the necessary reply to the ministry. However, we did not get any order from our higher ups. We are working as per the court orders,” said PR Rokade, Deputy Collector (Encroachment Removal).

Sumit Wajale of NAPM said that the government officials are working for the builders and not for the government. “The demolition drive is purposely undertaken to finish off the resistance even before the ordered inquiry is concluded,” he said, alleging that the demolition drive was also guarded by private security agencies provided by the builder.

#India – Amendments in slum policy of Delhi, will benefit lakhs of slumdwellers #goodnews


 

After a long & continued struggle, Delhi Government brought amendments in modified slum policy after getting pressurized from the slum dwellers of Delhi.

 

Delhi Government has accepted most of the demands of the Sangathan & amended policy has been notified on 25th ‘February’2013. The benefits of amended slum policy of Delhi will reach to the hundreds of slum clusters & lakhs of slum dwellers of Delhi.

 

Since last one decade thousands of poor families living in slum clusters of Delhi facing inhuman evictions by the Government agencies. The ongoing eviction was supported by the modified slum policy which was notified on 19.02.2010 by Delhi Government.

 

This modified policy had a number of conditions under its eligibility criteria for rehabilitation of slum dwellers. Most of the slum dwellers were unable to fulfill those conditions despite of living in slums since last twenty years. This could have resulted in mass evictions of slum dwellers, loss of shelter & livelihood, school drop outs of children, extreme poverty and malnutrition among women & children. As per previous policy/guidelines, around 80-85% slum dwellers were not eligible for rehabilitation. The settlement of slums has direct link with the livelihood of lakhs of construction & domestic workers, transport workers, vendors & contract workers living in slums.

 

Delhi Shramik Sangathan mobilized thousands of slum dwellers in hundreds of slums in Delhi against the threat of mass eviction due to such anti labor & anti poor policy. The slum dwellers across Delhi sent thousands of letters to CM office as well as office of the Urban Development Minister of Delhi Government and also marched to Parliament to lodge their protest demanding amendments in slum policy of Delhi on 27th Novenber’2012.

 

Delhi Shramik Sangathan also submitted memorandum to Union Minister of Housing & Urban Poverty Alleviation, UPA Chairperson, Smt. Sonia Gandhi, CM of Delhi, Smt. Sheila Dikshit and Minister of Urban Development, Government of Delhi, Sh Arvinder Singh Lovely demanding amendments in slum policy of Delhi.

 

These actions pressurized Delhi Government to change several conditions for eligibility for rehabilitation. The major amendments include:

 

  • The policy announced on 19.02.2010 had not only defined eligibility criteria for slum dwellers but it had also laid down eligibility conditions for slums; the slums which are situated near footpath, safety zone of railway, right of way, community areas were not eligible for rehabilitation; got removed from the policy.
  • The cut-off date for slum rehabilitation extended from 31st March’2007 to 4th June’2009.
  • As per the modified policy dated 19.02.2010; the slum dwellers had to present documents (Ration cards, Election identity card etc) of four periods that is of 1998, 2002,2007 and on the date of survey. The amendment has removed previous requirements of documents for eligibility condition; the name of the slum dwellers should be in electoral list on or before 04.06.2009 and in the year of survey.
  • The basis of income of slum dwellers as eligibility criteria for rehabilitation got removed from the policy.
  • With respect to ownership right; the flat to the eligible slum dweller will be allotted initially on lease hold basis for 15 years and converted to free hold thereafter.
  • Delhi government has shown intention in the court to withdraw their petition against the order of the honorable High Court of Delhi for rehabilitation of evicted families of New Sanjay Camp, Okhla through petition WP(C) 8904/2009.
  • This amendment will have impact on a number of cases pending in honorable High Court of Delhi for rehabilitation of slum dwellers.
  • The benefits of amended guidelines will also apply to those eight slums which were demolished as per previous modified policy dated 19.02.2010.
  • The procedures of Survey of slums have become more transparent than the earlier one. Now, the slum dwellers will be informed in advance about the survey and each family will be included in survey list whether it’s owner of the Jhuggi or tenant.

 

The amended policy is still silent on the issues of In-situ rehabilitation and actual cost of the flat under JNNURM.

 

In total, the amendments in the slum policy will bring relief to the lakhs of slum dwellers of Delhi who were under threat of inhuman eviction & fear of throwing away out of the city. The reality will be known after implementation of these policy guidelines.

RAMENDRA KUMAR

Secretary General

Delhi Shramik Sangathan

M-9868815915

 

 

#India- Share of Young Children in Urban Development is a Myth


Share of Young Children in Urban Development is a Myth
Friday, February 22, 2013
By Tejeswar Parida
India’s urban population is increasing at a faster rate than its total population. For the first time in the history of demographic record the census of 2011-12 finds that the urban population growth rate is faster than that of the rural areas.
India has now 7,935 towns; an increase of 2,774 since the last Census (2001). Urban population grew to 377 million showing an annual growth rate of 2.76% during 2001-2011. With over 575 million people, India will have 41% percent of its population living in cities and towns by 2030 AD from the present level of 286 million and 28%. Even as the overall decadal population growth rate came down to 17.64% from 21.54% in previous decade, this decade created a history as the urban population grew by 31.80% as compared to 12.18% rural population growth.
When we talk about urban development there are projects and programmes like JNNURUM, BSUP, RAY, UIDSSMT etc to preserve the rights of citizens living in urban poverty. After being launched days back in 2005 December 3rd JNNURM has been the pioneer project for urban development in India. Under UIDSSMT of JNNURM, 807 projects have been approved for 672 towns/cities. Though the quantitative approach seems impressive the ground reality where the concern of every individual child counts are at the back door.
Every eighth urban child in India in the age-group of 0-6 years stays in slums, according to ‘Slums in India – A statistical compendium 2011′ published by the Union government.
“… about 7.6 million children are living in slums in India and they constitute 13.1 per cent of the total child population of the urban areas of the 26 States/ Union Territories reporting slums,” the report compiled by the National Buildings Organisation (NBO) of the Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation says. “Around 2.5 million children in the age group of 0-6 are living in the slum areas of million plus cities in 2001; this constitutes 27.3 per cent of the total child population of these 27 cities,” the report stated.
Half of these 2.5 million children stay in the three major metros of Mumbai, Delhi and Kolkata. While Mumbai has 0.86 million children, Delhi and Kolkata account for 0.3 million and 0.15 million children respectively.
Urban poverty impacts children severely. A child in urban area faces poverty in multiple ways that makes it difficult for him/her to escape from a lifelong cycle of poverty and deprivation. Slums lack basic civic amenities like clean drinking water, sanitation and health facilities. Lack of birth registration, immunisation, safe water, sanitation, safe places to play, well ventilated houses, nutritious food, safety from violence- there is an endless list of denial of rights to the young children living in urban poverty. Studies across the world have shown that lack of proper physical environment leads to impaired growth of children. Demographic dividend is reaped when the youths are healthy and educated enough to be gainfully employed. So poverty not only violates every right of children but also the overall national development. The problems of young children in poverty exist both in rural as well as urban areas but the young children living in urban slums are invisible.
Different studies have been made to explore the possibility of using JNNURM funded initiatives to improve the living conditions and well being of children and young people living in slums in cities across India. All such reports and finds are pointing out non-availability of child friendly environment within the slums in India.
In Odisha context Bhubaneswar and Puri have been selected under JNNURM and Cuttack, Berhampur and Sambalpur towns have been identified to be covered under Urban Infrastructure Development Scheme for Small and Medium Towns (UIDSSMT) in the first phase. And several cases where a child friendly slum in needed are coming into front. Incidents like a four year old young girl in Khan sahi in Cuttack is crying in pain as her hand got burnt are rampant these days. She fell on the choolah while her mother was cooking.
Most people in slums cook just outside their houses or inside the houses which have no ventilation. Children suffer from burns, asthma and breathing problems. The open drain in a slum in Berhampur city cost a young boy his life. The lack of water and sanitation facilities results in various illnesses- diarrhoea, skin rashes and fever. With no proper housing, no drainage or water, no play areas coupled with poverty, the young urban child is denied all basic rights. As a country with nearly 159 million young children, the highest in the world, we are totally immune to the problems faced by our young children living in urban poverty.
Our children are our window of opportunity and we need to ensure that they grow up in a safe and healthy environment. $20 billion approximately is being invested in JNNURM and the country  want to make each paisa count for its young children.

SOURCE -http://www.orissadiary.com/

 

#Mumbai slumdwellers- Living in No Man’s Land


A powerful nexus of builders, policemen and bureaucrats has left the slum dwellers of Mumbai in a perpetual state of uncertainty

Living in No Man’s Land

A powerful nexus of builders, policemen and bureaucrats has left the slum dwellers of Mumbai in a perpetual state of uncertainty
Residents of bastis across the city such as Golibar, Ambujwadi, Kandamwar Nagar have been engaged in a bitter struggle to protect their homes for nearly a decade

On 29 May 2012, 60 policemen accompanied a BMC demolition squad to the basti. Residents lined up in front of their homes to protest this illegal demolition, and were physically attacked by a police officer. The officer also ordered his team to strip the women if they got in the way — as clearly seen in videos shot by activists present at the site. Female constables dragged women from the bastis by the hair, ripping their clothes off and beating them. In spite of the fact that Medha Patkar (Medha tai, as she is known in the basti) accompanied the group taken into custody, the station still refused to lodge an FIR against the policemen.

The intriguing question — why, in spite of the threat of violence forced eviction, the residents of Sion Koliwada refuse to leave — is answered in part by that sense of community living in a horizontal space has fostered. “Even now, I know I can leave for work and that my mother is safe. Help is always just a shout away,” says Rajesh, gesturing at the vast and tight cluster of low-ceilinged homes around us. Members from the central knot of protesters — an assortment of residents, people from surrounding bastis, activists, and I — queued up in front of a large vessel of biryani and served ourselves dinner. A 60-year-old Catholic gradmother, Pauline, took me through a tour of the homes, some with with sparkling white floor tiles, most with colour televisions — recounting the tragedies that had befallen each family since the builders first came. “This is Kalpesh Shivkar’s house. It was the first one to be broken without warning. Initially, the police admitted that a mistake had been made, but we did not know enough then to record their statement,” she says. At the second home, eight-year-old Tanu and her twin waited for their mother, along with their 13-year-old sister and 72-year-old grandmother. “They dragged my bahuMadhuri by the hair and put her in a police van in front of her children. She had an operation just a month ago for a lump in her chest. She had no strength to resist and she clung on to me for support,” says Indira rajesh Keni, showing me her bruised arms. Quite naturally, while Indira and the children wait for Madhuri to return, they are looked after by their neighbours.

A central refrain at the protest — “We do not want to live in tall narrow buildings, we do not want to learn” — a resistance to ‘vertical life’, has been explained by KT Ravindran, Professor and Head of Urban Design at the School of Planning and Architecture. Ravindran believes people living in slums are accustomed to a horizontal social network, which fails to provide support when homes are piled on top of one another. “The lift and the lobby, for instance, prove to be dangerous zones for women, children and the elderly because they present a social risk, a ‘no man’s land’. Further, the community cannot afford to pay for the electricity to run and maintain these spaces,” he says.

Activist Medha Patkar agrees that while their march to the Mantralaya yielded some positive results, it is still a daunting task to resettle Mumbai’s entire slum population under the Rajiv Awas Yojana. “The issues are greater than just illegal demolishing of homes. Families have been living in transit homes for nearly two decades waiting for a house. Official profits have been made under false names. There are scams worth crores, all of which have been presented to the government — all we can do now is wait for the inquiry to be held,” she says, on the phone with Tehelka. For the residents of Mumbai’s slums, a peaceful night’s sleep is still the stuff of dreams.

http://tehelka.com/living-in-no-mans-land

 

Update June 20 : Police attack and arrest demonstrators-State crushing a democratic movement


Massive Lathicharge on Nonadanga protesters: Another example of state’s effort to crush a democratic movement


A Report by Nilanjan Dutta
The day before, police said they would not permit any rally at Esplanade by the evicted people from Nonadanga.
On the morning of 20 June, they did not object when the rally was held and allowed the 200-odd participants to occupy the ‘Y Channel’, which is actually a narrow strip of land beside a huge garbage vat between the main tram and bus stations at Esplanade. Of late, this highly inconvenient and acutely stinking spot seems to have been earmarked to accommodate all the ‘non-mainstream’ demonstrators who are no better than garbage in the eyes of the administration.
As the public meeting went on, at one stage the police brought an offer from the Writers’ Buildings that the minister in charge would meet the committee delegation on 26 June. The assembly discussed the matter instantly and agreed to disperse on the basis of this assurance, if the authorities agreed to clear the outlets of the settlement field at Nonadanga that had been blocked by raising a boundary wall. This was causing tremendous inconvenience for the residents.
The police messengers went to convey this to the minister but came back with the message that he had now said he would meet the delegates on 3 July instead of 26 June.
The protesters became restive and demanded an early appointment.
Again, a vague assurance came that the appointment would be advanced, without specifying any date.
The people decided they would not leave until the government made a commitment on the date of the talks. There was no further communication from the latter, but not a rejection of the demand either.
Late in the evening, police officers even came and inquired with the activists whether they planned to stay at the spot for the night and paternalistically talked about the necessity of arranging “protection” as there were so many women among them.
And Suddenly There Was The Lathi Charge.
The wounded were initially herded into the central lock-up at the Kolkata Police headquarters along with the others. They were taken to the Calcutta Medical College Hospital only after their co-prisoners raised a hue and cry inside the lock-up particularly after seeing Sanjay Mandal, a committee member from Nonadanga, writhing in pain before them and from the outside, APDR members began to intervene and express concern to high-ranking police officials calling for urgent medical attention.
The officers though still denied that there was any lathi charge at all!
Earlier report –
Since 11am, residents of Nonadanga started a roadside demonstration/dharna in the Esplanade area. It is being reported that the police carried out a massive lathicharge on the dharna and several persons had to be admitted to Medical College for treatment. While negotiations were going on about when the concerned minister can give an appointment to hear about the grievances, police started picking up certain selected activists at around 8pm and then lathicharged to disperse the rest. Around 40 persons have been arrested including Amitabha Bhattacharya (the chairman of the Uchched Pratirodh Committee) and Samik Chakraborty (who is also an activist of Sanhati).



Massive Lathicharge on Nonadanga protesters: Another example of state’s effort to crush a democratic movement :- 


Today, Kolkata police had carried out a massive and brutal lathicharge on the Nonadanga slum-dwellers & mass activists who were in a demonstration protest at Esplanade,Kolkata. All the protesters were heavily beaten up including women & children.
The protesters started their demonstration against the forceful eviction of Nonadanga slum & also against the recent attack on the slum-dwellers by the goons backed by TMC.
In spite of all these incidents and police brutality, any media, be it electronic or print, has totally blacked out any news and update about the ongoing movement in Nonadanga and hasn’t reported any of these incidents.
At near about 8 p.m., police started to pick up selected mass activists who were in the movement from the very beginning & then brutally lathicharged to disperse the rest of the protestors.
Many of the protesters were admitted to the hospital while 6 of them were seriously injured & is reported in a very serious condition.
Around 40 protesters are being arrested along with Shamik Chakraborty (activist of Mazdoor Kranti Parishad),Amitabha Bhattacharya (president of anti-eviction committee, Nonadanga) & others.
This is clear that the state govt. don’t want to hear any voice of protest & criticism. This brutal attack on these protesters has clearly exposed the autocratic and authoritarian state machinery which is fiercely trying to silent any voice of protest.


Stand firm in the face of state repression.
Come together to protest this fascist trend of the govt.
Demand immediate unconditional release of all the prisoners who have been arrested illegally with forged cases. 
Join the movement against the forceful eviction of Nonadanga
Reject the development model where common people are expended in order to raise corporate profit    

Editor of Towards New Dawn Abhijnan Sarkar and several other activists like Deblina Chakrabarty are arrested on 8th April 2012, when they were protesting against an eviction drive of slum dwellers by state officials at Nonadanga, Kolkata. They are framed with several false charges and put under detention till now. Towards New Dawn demands unconditional release of its editor and all other activists.- contact at towardsdawn@gmail.com

Read more news here

Early Death Assured in India Where 900 Million Go Hungry


By Mehul Srivastava and Adi Narayan – Jun 14, 2012 12:00 AM GMT+0530

The death certificate for 3-year-old Rashid Ahmed hides more than it reveals.

It lists his name, misspells his mother’s and says he died of malaria. What it doesn’t say is how little he weighed when he was brought to hospital with the disease in New Delhi one August night, how his ribs jutted from his chest, or how helpless his doctor, 28-year-old Gyvi Gaurav, was in trying to save him.

Mohamed Hafiz Khan, left, eats lunch along with his wife, middle bottom, and four children in their rented home iin the Dharavi slum area of Mumbai, India. Photographer: Dhiraj Singh/Bloomberg

June 14 (Bloomberg) — Gyvi Gaurav, a doctor at St. Stephen’s Hospital in New Delhi, talks about the case of a 3 year-old patient that died of malnutrition, which left him unable to fight off a case of malaria. In the 2005 National Family Health Survey, when India last measured its children for signs of hunger, it found 46 percent, or 31 million, weighed too little for their ages. That’s almost an entire Canada of malnourished under-three-year-olds. (Source: Bloomberg)

Clothes are hung out in a small alley in the Dharavi slum area of Mumbai, India. Photographer: Dhiraj Singh/Bloomberg

Children hold bowls of sprouts outside their home in the Dharavi slum area of Mumbai, India. Photographer: Dhiraj Singh/Bloomberg

Shabana Khan makes bread for her husband and four children at their rented home in the Dharavi slum area of Mumbai, India. Photographer: Dhiraj Singh/Bloomberg

A roadside vegetable vendor arranges brinjal in the Dharavi slum area of Mumbai, India. Photographer: Dhiraj Singh/Bloomberg

“It was hunger that killed him,” said Gaurav, who worked the night of August 15 at St. Stephen’s Hospital and was on watch when the toddler died. “He was so weak, so malnourished, that he would have died the first time he ever got really sick – – from malaria, diarrhea, anything.”

For Rashid’s mother, Nazia, the three-decade road from her birth to the death of her son ran alongside a slow collapse in India’s elemental struggle to feed its people. More than three- quarters of the 1.2 billion population eat less than minimum targets set by the government, up from about two-thirds, or 472 million people, in 1983. India’s failure to feed its people came as the economy accelerated, with gross domestic product per capita almost doubling in the past decade.

“I cry every night,” Nazia said on May 15, speaking through sobs after being told her child may have lived had he eaten better. “For my wasted life, for my dead child, for the hunger in my stomach. What could I give him? I had nothing, nothing to sell.”

Calories V. Nutrition

While nutritionists and economists debate the importance of targets defined solely in calories, other data shows gains in nourishment also stalled. In the 2005 National Family Health Survey, when India last weighed, measured and counted its children for signs of hunger, it found 46 percent — 31 million — weighed too little for their ages, almost an entire Canada of malnourished under-three-year-olds. In 1999, that number was 47 percent.

Some indicators worsened: 79 percent of children had anemia, against 74 percent in 1999; 19 percent were wasted — weighed too little for their height — up from 16 percent. Anemia prevents the absorption of nutrients; as do the diarrhea and other diseases caused by poor hygiene and sanitation.

In sheer numbers, 4 out of 10 malnourished children in the world are Indian, more than in all of Africa. War-torn Sudan and famine-struck Eritrea had smaller percentages of malnourished children, at about 32 percent, according to the Washington-based International Food Policy Research Institute.

Cognitive Deficit

India’s hungry children are likely to have lower cognitive skills, grow up to be weakened workers, suffer from chronic illnesses and die prematurely, according to the United Nations Children’s Fund. Hunger stalks them into adulthood too: 21 percent of all Indians are undernourished, according to Ifpri, up from 20 percent a decade ago. All of which costs the country about $68 billion a year, or almost 4 percent of GDP, according to Veena S. Rao, who heads nutrition initiatives for the government of Karnataka, the Indian state that encompasses the city of Bangalore.

“The problem of malnutrition is a national shame,” Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said in January, in one of about 50 public speeches where he has mentioned the subject. “Despite impressive growth in our gross domestic product, the level of under-nutrition in the country is unacceptably high.”

India has collected reliable and consistent national data on nutrition since 1972, soon after setting minimum daily intakes of about 2,100 calories a day for city residents, who are assumed to be less physically active. The level for rural- dwellers was pegged at 2,400 calories on the basis that tilling fields, harvesting crops and drawing water require greater exertion.

Counting Error

Only in 1999-2000 did the average urban Indian meet the target — and that may have been due to a counting error, according to the National Sample Survey Office, a branch of the statistics ministry. Rural Indians never have, and have seen their intake slide to 2,020 calories in 2010, from a high of 2,266 calories in 1973, according to Bloomberg calculations based on data from the office.

A National Nutrition Monitoring Bureau study in nine states that make up the majority of India’s malnourished population showed a steeper decline, with average rural calorie counts falling to about 1,900 in 2005 from 2,340 in 1979. Daily protein intake dropped to 49 grams (1.5 ounces) from 63 grams.

The global average is 77 grams, according to the UN’s Food and Agricultural Organization. The worldwide average daily caloric intake is about 2,800 calories a day.

Neither the diets of Nazia nor her two surviving children meet the averages.

Hard Life

A hard life outside Nagpur city in central India, where her husband died of tuberculosis and a failing cotton crop meant work dried up in the fields, was followed by a hard life in a New Delhi slum. After arriving in the Indian capital 10 years ago, Nazia begged on the streets before landing work as a day laborer on construction sites. Her third son, Rashid, was fathered by a different man.

At 5 feet and 3 inches (1.6 meters), Nazia weighs 43 kilograms (95 pounds). Her hands, rough and torn from years of lifting bricks and balancing them on a small turban over her head, move feverishly as she rolls wheat dough into a type of unleavened bread called rotis for dinner on a recent weeknight.

Sitting on the floor in their 7-foot by 8-foot home, she and her sons, Aslam, 12, and Akbar, 14, eat a hurried dinner, a bare lamp providing the only light. The brick-built room, topped with a patchwork corrugated metal roof in a small, illegal shanty-town between the Old Delhi railway station and the tourist spots of the Jama Masjid and the Red Fort, smells of old sweat and fresh sewage.

Daily Diet

Three rotis each, a gruel of potatoes and curry powder, an onion and a chili make up a typical dinner. Once a week in summer, they share two mangoes, with Nazia sucking on the flesh left around the seed after the boys eat most of the fruit. Lunch is the same, which the boys serve themselves cold from a small steel container, and breakfast is tea and two slices of coarse white bread. It all adds up to a daily consumption of 1,500 calories to 1,600 calories of mostly carbohydrates.

That places the family in the poorest quarter of Indians in terms of nutrition, with the group averaging 1,624 calories a day, according to Bloomberg calculations based on National Sample Survey data. The poorest 10th on average consume 1,485 calories — a little more than a McDonald’s Big Mac with large Coke and large fries.

‘Blunt Tool’

Calories are a blunt tool for understanding malnourishment, according to Angus Deaton, a Princeton economist who has studied India closely. While gains against malnourishment largely stalled between 1999 and 2005, two earlier surveys showed dropping calorie counts even as nourishment indicators improved, he said.

That suggests “the real focus should be on improving health, not just improving calorie counts,” Deaton said in a May 21 interview.

Indian lifestyles have changed since the early 1970’s, he said. More people in rural areas own bicycles, saving energy moving around and transporting things. Farm machinery is more widespread, cutting down on tilling and planting by hand. Ailments like malaria and diarrhea are less common as the supply of potable water improved.

“If you’re doing less manual labor, if your children are falling sick less often, then you need fewer calories,” Deaton said. “This is a natural progression of the Indian diet. Focusing just on calories is misleading.”

‘Republic of Hunger’

Not everyone agrees. Utsa Patnaik, a professor at New Delhi-based Jawaharlal Nehru University and author of “The Republic of Hunger,” said that the decline in calorie consumption is the result of a shortage of food availability, and a capitalist economy that hasn’t spread the benefits of India’s economic boom equitably.

Her research shows that per-capita availability of rice, wheat and other food-grains in India has fallen from 177 kilograms in the early 1990s to 153 kilos in 2004 — about what it was in 1934. Much of the deterioration in food security has come after Singh began opening India’s economy to free-market competition.

“Forty years of efforts to raise how much food-grains Indians are able to eat has been destroyed by a mere dozen years of economic reform,” Patnaik said.

Riddled With Graft

The government has expanded subsidy programs, spending about $11 billion in 2011 — about 5 percent of the central government’s $231 billion budget — to buy and distribute food at below-market prices to people officially designated as poor.

More than 30 investigations by the National Human Rights Commission, the Supreme Court and anti-corruption agencies such as the Central Bureau of Investigation have concluded that the public distribution is riddled with graft. As much as 40 percent of food purchased for the poor doesn’t reach them, according to the UN’s Standing Committee on Nutrition.

“Subsidies don’t reach the poor. Trickle-down doesn’t reach the poor. Nothing reaches the poor,” said Yogendra Alagh, an economist in Gujarat state who first proposed in 1972 the calorie guidelines that still govern food policy in India. “In the past two or three decades, we’ve regressed backwards into a country that can’t even guarantee a poor, pregnant woman a glass of milk so the next generation isn’t born stunted.”

At the same time, the number of rich is swelling. Households with more than $1 million in assets jumped 21 percent in the past year alone, a May 31 Boston Consulting Group report shows.

Efforts to improve sanitation are struggling to keep pace with a growing population and the spread of urban slums.

Fecal Matter

More than half of India’s population defecate daily in fields, bushes, beaches and other open spaces, according to a 2012 report by the World Health Organization and Unicef. Diarrhea among children younger than 5 years accounts for more than 47 percent of the total health-related economic impact of contaminated water and untreated fecal matter, according to a 2010 report by the World Bank’s Water and Sanitation Program.

Nazia’s family must pay to use a communal toilet. The queues are often so long, the stench so overpowering, that the boys defecate in an open sewer not far from the slum.

Every third night Nazia cooks dal, a curry of lentils common across north India, their calorie intake increases slightly, and the boys get some protein. On Fridays, after visiting a nearby mosque to pray, she makes a curry of eggs. Once a year, to mark the end of the month of day-time fasting called Ramadan, she buys some mutton.

“You should see how happy they are that day,” she said. “They talk about it for weeks before, and weeks after.”

Country Life

Nazia recalls when she first moved to Delhi she thought, if nothing else, she and her children would be eating more, if not better. Instead, recounting the meals she was able to pull together — with spinach from a small plot of land behind her hut, carrots when they were in season, coarse brown rice and yoghurt from the milk of a family goat, Nazia realizes that for her family the escape to Delhi has been a nutritional disaster.

A detailed description of her meals in the country yields an intake of about 1,800 calories a day, and far more nutrients — calcium, vitamin A and protein — than her diet in Delhi.

“If you had told me in the village that I wouldn’t get to eat any yoghurt in the city, I would have called you a liar,” she said, during one of eight interviews at the family’s home.

Richer, Hungrier

Instead, her move to New Delhi made her among the country’s biggest losers in terms of calories. The greatest drop in consumption, on average, is for village dwellers who migrated to the cities in the past 30 years. They’ve seen their intake fall to about 2,000 calories a day from about 2,200 calories in a village in the 1980s, National Sample Survey Office data show.

At the same time, Nazia’s income has doubled. She remembers living on 20 to 30 rupees (40-50 cents) a day in the village, where she didn’t have to pay rent. It’s a common trajectory, as traced out by the nutrition data: Indians like Nazia have seen measurable increases in income, with real GDP per capita almost doubling to 48,734 rupees ($873) a year in the past decade. And like Nazia, on average, they now consume fewer calories and less nourishing food.

These meals eat up almost a third of the 80 cents a day Nazia earns from her work at a construction site near the Old Delhi railway station. Nazia said she is too weak to labor more than four hours at a stretch. Because her children are young, they work only around the house, sometimes helping neighbors with chores in exchange for handfuls of uncooked rice.

The reasons behind the decline in urban calories are unclear.

Urban Costs

One theory argues that much of the increased income from moving to cities is spent on expenses forced upon slum-dwellers. Their children fall sick more often from dirty water; they must pay for transportation to work sites; they must pay rent rather than live in huts they built themselves.

“These are the costs of participating in the urban economy,” said Madhura Swaminathan, an economist at Kolkata’s Indian Statistical Institute. “Your increased income is canceled out by increased expenditure. In the end, you have even less left for food.”

That’s what happened to Mohamed Hafiz Khan, 40, and his family of five. In 1992, they moved to Mumbai, joining the economic refugees who flock to the city at a rate of one person every eight minutes. Most end up in slums, like the one where Khan lives with his wife Shabana and their four children.

Kerosene Prices

Khan, who works as a tailor, spends almost $90 out of the $150 he makes each month on food and kerosene for the family’s stove. In 1992, he paid $6.40 a month from his $38 wage for their 12-foot by 8-foot home in the Dharavi slum. This year, rent is $36 a month. His children fall sick almost twice a month, and the doctor’s fees add up. Their diet deteriorated as the price of kerosene in the slum’s black market soared.

While Singh’s government subsidizes the fuel, the Khans said corrupt local officials are siphoning off their allotment, forcing them to buy on the black market. Benchmark Asian prices of Kerosene in Singapore have risen fivefold in the past decade.

The four children used to drink Complan or Horlicks, enriched supplements their mother would mix with milk. They no longer do. The Khans used to eat rice, which used up more kerosene to cook. They no longer do. They used to eat as many rotis as they wanted to. Now they share 12 because they can’t afford the kerosene needed to roast them. They eat fruit maybe once every two weeks. The few vegetables the local market provides are withered and old.

Fresh Food

Across India, the percentage of daily calorie needs being met by fruit and vegetables dropped between 1993 and 2010, according to the National Sample Survey Office. Rural families get 1.8 percent of their energy from those foods, from 2 percent in 1993, the data show. For city-dwellers, the share fell to 2.6 percent to 3.3 percent.

In the weeks before he died, Rashid tasted his first ice cream. Older brother Akbar was given one by a foreign tourist at the railway station, and he ran back home before it could melt so he could share it with Rashid.

“It was the sweetest thing I’ve ever had,” said Akbar, describing how he and Rashid licked the inside of the cardboard container, and then saved it as a reminder.

Immune System

Both Rashid’s brothers survived malaria, common in Delhi’s slums during the monsoons, when rain water pools in potholes and open sewers for the Anopheles mosquito to breed. Rashid was weaker. Aslam, in an old picture taken for an identity card when he was three, appears to have rounded cheeks, and his arms were thicker than Rashid’s, his mother said. That may have been the result of two years when he lived with his grandparents in the village. When Akbar was 3, his father had been alive, and food was not that scarce.

Staff at St. Stephen’s Hospital weighed Rashid when his mother brought him in, shivering from eight hours of malaria- induced fevers. He weighed 12 kilos and his arms were “thin as sticks,” said Gaurav, the doctor.

Malnourishment had left his immune system too weak to fight the parasitic disease. He struggled with the richer hospital food and wasn’t able to properly absorb the chloroquine he was given for the malaria. A saline drip helped his condition a little, said Gaurav, who said he recalled the night so vividly because Rashid was the first child to die under his care. Gaurav gave the listless toddler medicines to lower his temperature, while mother Nazia tried to cool his skin with dampened rags.

To boost Rashid’s energy, Gaurav tried a trick that had worked with other children in his care: he gave an orderly the equivalent of 50 cents to buy ice cream.

“He ate three in three hours,” said Nazia.

On August 16, at about 3 a.m., Rashid died in his sleep.

In the refrigerator under the night shift nurse’s desk, surrounded by fresh syringes and medicines, a fourth cup of vanilla ice cream sat uneaten.

To contact the reporters on this story: Mehul Srivastava in New Delhi at msrivastava6@bloomberg.net; Adi Narayan in Mumbai at anarayan8@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Ben Richardson at brichardson8@bloomberg.net

Solidarity statement from Bangalore with anti-eviction basti struggles in Mumbai and Kolkata


June 11, 2012
Dayanandnagar slum residents group , in s Bangalore send their solidarity  supportwith the basti dwellers fighting eviction in slums of Mumbai and Kolkata after seeing pictures and films of their struggles. We also know such struggles are happening everywhere, in our own city such as E.W.S quarters and in other cities besides Mumbai and Kolkata, and we are trying to reach out to learn more and join hands to fight together. When we saw the photos of struggle in Mumbai and Kolkata we felt we had to reach out by letter as these struggles are so far away. Attached is our statement in Kannada and below is a translation into English. In the English translation we added in brackets some points which were discussed after our letter was first drafted in Kannada at the meeting.

 

“We in the dalit and women’s group of Dayanandnagar slum, work on slum resident issues. With respect to these issues, we join hands with you in struggle against the violent oppression directed at you. In both the Koliwada, (Ambujwada) and Golibar struggles in Mumbai, and the Nonadanga struggle in Kolkatta, police violence and the eviction of people from their homes by government officials took place. We oppose the police violence and atrocities, (including the molestation and mishandling of women by male police officers while repressing protests), and the arrogance and oppression of the government officials. We support you, and are with you, hence this letter”

 

in solidarity,
Dayanandnagar slum residents:
Kavitha G
Shivani
Kaveri R.I.
Narasimha
Mani S
Kavitha
Asha
Govinda
Shakeela
Maala
G. Justin
Vasegi
Vanaja A.
P. Venkatesh
Rajeshwari R.

 

On the situation in Nonadanga – Pamphlet by Uchched Pratirodh Committee


 

May 1, 2012

We Demand Proper Rehabilitation That is Fit for Human Survival for Slum Dwellers of Nonadanga as well as of Majdur Palli, Shramik Colony, Subhaspalli, Lakepalli, Bhai-Bhai Colony, Bastuhara Colony.

We demand immediate release of the 11 arrested along with all other activists.

The slum dwellers of Nonadanga, evicted on 30th of March, have rebuilt their shanties. After the rallies, demonstrations, mass-protests and the 12 day long hunger strike movement, right when the slum dwellers under the guidance of eviction-resistance committee (Uchchhed Protirodh Committee) have built the shades over their head, the government came down again with its brutality on the slum dwellers on the 28th of April. Eleven people were arrested including 5 women on fabricated charges. Till date two of the previously arrested supporters of the movement has not been released by the state.

This movement of Nonadanga has brought to the forefront the demands related to the condition of schools, hospitals, and drinking water along with the general developmental needs of the entire Nonadanga region. Nonadanga’s movement has brought to the forefront the demands – of the slumdwellers, hawkers and small shop owners – for the right to livelihood and right to shelter of those evicted from the fringes of Kolkata. Nonadanga’s movement has challenged the much-touted plan of converting Kolkata to London; it has put a big question mark on the pro-poor image of the government of “Ma-Mati-Manush”.

The state government, the ruling party and some servile media is spreading false propaganda

From the very beginning, the government has tried to create divisions among the slum dwellers. Creating a split between the dwellers of the two evicted slums of 30th March (viz. Majdur Palli and Shramik Colony), and those of Lakepalli, Bhai-bhai Colony and other nearby slums is the government’s agenda. Deliberate and false propaganda is being spread that the dwellers of the two evicted slums had obtained rehabilitation flats from the government and after selling that off, they are suddenly squatting by building shanties in the open field, in lure of new flats. It is also being said that these people are actually backed by land mafias, NGOs and Maoists. Coming from outside, these people are the ones who are trying to disturb the peace in Nonadanga. On the other hand the chief minister is saying that they have not and will not evict anybody.

Is that really how it is? Or are there other things veiled behind?

What is the state’s plan with Nonadanga?

Ever since the Mamata Banerjee government has come to power, among other things they have started to utilize (!) vacant land in around the city of Kolkata. Under the direction of the urban development minister, KMDA has already started to sell off vacant lands in the city following the public-private partnership (PPP) model. According to the KMDA website, there is about 80 acres of land (along with some water bodies) in their possession which they would like to lease out to private initiatives for 99 years. Multistoried residential complex, shopping malls, multiplex movie halls for the privileged, entertainment centers and water parks will be built on these lands.

The entire field, on one corner of which is Majdur Palli and Shramik Colony, is only 19 acres. We ask – where is then these 80 acres of vacant land in Nonadanga? By the mention of the nearby water bodies, it is clear that by vacant land, the slums are being indicated. That is, not only Majdur Palli and Shramik Colony, little by little, Lakepalli, Bhai-bhai Colony, Subhaspalli, Bastuhara Colony, basically all slums of Nonadanga will eventually be evicted. Only then 80 acres of land can be handed over to the land sharks. They will make profits in crores by constructing residences, entertainment centers, shopping malls, and water parks for the privileged. And hence, those who are saying that rehabilitation flats would be built on this land for the poor are simply lying. There’s no mention of flats for the poor in the KMDA website.

Apparently everyone here owns a flat!

And that is why the government and the profiteers absolutely need this land. That is why eviction has been started from Majdur Palli, Shramik Colony. Others are given the false promise of “rehabilitation”. Once they can crush Majdur Palli and Shramik Colony without providing any rehabilitation, then the rest of the slums can be evicted following the same path. That is why their strategy is to create division amongst us, to weaken us and eventually to evict all of us one by one. And then, will follow, driving out those who do not have proper documentation for their flats. We are challenging you, do not get confused by their false propaganda. If even one such slum dweller can be found in Majdur Palli and Shramik Colony who has sold off their rehabilitation flat of Nonadanga and has constructed shanties in the field in lure of a new flat, the Eviction Resistance Committee (Uchchhed Protirodh Committee) will get rid of their shanty. But why is it their fault, if in the rehabilitation flat, there are four or more adult members and due to lack of space they are forced to live in the shanties in the open fields? If you have any question with regard to this, then come to us and tell us where are we wrong? We have kept the door for discussion and consultation open for all.

Again the outsiders!

It is an irony that when Mamata Banerjee was fighting in the Singur-Nandigram movement, the then CPIM government labeled her as an “outsider”. Today Mamata Banerjee, her party and her servile followers are labeling those who are supporting this movement and who are not slum dwellers themselves as “outsiders”. This is a tragic joke in the recent history of anti-eviction movement in West Bengal. Government of the one time leader of ant-eviction movement is evicting or will evict a large part of the slum dwellers of Kolkata. Is this then the road map for Kolkata to become London?

Life in the flats – rehabilitation or exile!

The other thing that needs to be mentioned is the struggle in the everyday life of the residents of the rehabilitation flats, of the small time business owners in the markets, of the crisis in the lives of the many other residents of Nonadanga. It is true, they have received a small flat of 160 sq.ft., but is that enough for one family? The conditions of basic civic services are beyond reprehensible. We do not have clean water, there is an acute crisis of water in general. There’s no government initiated school, college, health-center or hospital here. The small area that is there as a playground for the kids will be taken over to build the park for the elite. Maybe for more profit, the government will demolish even these flats and will direct the evictees of Khalpar, Narkelbagan, and Govindapur rail colony to move further away. Or they will be enclosed within the net of the big plans of development. We the poor are out of place in this prim and proper city of the elite. Today we are entrapped in this tinned construction; tomorrow the entire Nonadanga will face the same condition.

This is the struggle of all residents of Nonadanga, we must win this struggle

Friends, we are forced to enter this unequal war against the State government, their pampered profiteers, against the false propaganda by the police and some media, only for our survival’s sake. For the sake of a roof over our head. But however unequal this war is, however much they try to beat us, we have been winning. That is why they have come back to beat us again. They are making failed attempts to get some of the government favoured fake intellectuals riled against us. Any kind of resistance is being labeled as “Maoist” to gather legal sanctity to repress it.

Even after all that, they have not been able to suppress this movement. They have arrested 11 of us including 5 women under unethical and false pretexts. And still they could not kill our movement. We continue our movement in demand of proper rehabilitation of all dwellers of Nonadanga, in demand of unconditional release of all agitators. Today this struggle is not only for the Majdoor Palli and Shramik Colony of Nonadanga; today this struggle is for all slum dwellers, for the right to shelter. We plead to you, as a slum dweller, as a resident of this area, join us in this struggle. Be on our side as a defendant of the basic rights. We need all your love, help and support. Let Nonadanga be the new name for our struggle. Let there be hope for the defendants.

With thanks,

Eviction Resistance Committee (Uchched Pratirodh Committee)

[Translated by Atreyi]

Click here to read Bengali Pamphlet

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