Awas Haq Satyagraha enters 24th Day
Mumbai | 18th June, 2015: It has been 24 days since the Awas Haq Satyagraha started but the authorities have still not reverted to the demands of the satygrahis. Despite of heavy and constant rains, the satyagrahis have remained, undeterred, attached to the movement and are holding onto their land from which they were evicted 11 years back. Relay Fast entered 18th day, today. On a general note, provision of house to people is a contentious and debatable issue but isn’t 11 years too long a time for the authorities to take a decision on this for the people of Mandala-Mankhurd?
Under the aegis of Ghar Bachao Ghar Banao Andolan (GBGBA)people of Mandala-Mankhurd have been pressing on their demands, since long, from the authorities to give their land back to them from which they were again forcefully evicted in the year 2006 after rebuilding their houses in 2005. Mandala evictees took their struggle to Delhi on several occasions and staged dharnas at Jantar Mantar as forceful eviction of slum dwellers is a national issue as well. After several meetings with the authorities since the past 11 years, no definite solution was provided to the evictees.
The authorities were insensitive then and are utterly insensitive now as well. According to a Rapid inquiry report of Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) on slum demolitions in 2006 at Mandala, women and children suffered lathicharge; women especially were abused by the police personnels. Some were even held by hair and beaten up. One of the women was breast feeding her child when all of a sudden police started beating her mercilessly with lathisand boots, a pregnant woman ran to save her but she was beaten as well. Such was the brutality of the Police.
According to a United Nations report on ‘Right to adequate housing’, “forced evictions may be considered a gross violation of human rights and prima facie violation of right to adequate housing”. It further states, “state must ensure that evictions be carried out in a lawful, reasonable and proportional manner”. But looking at the findings of the TISS report the evictions were far from reasonable or proportional.
Even now the GBGBA has been requesting the BMC (BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation) for sending water tankers and provision of toilet facilities at the satyagraha site but to no avail. Water tankers were sent but not daily and people especially women have been defecating in the open land which already is a dumping ground. The risk of dreadful diseases such as Diarrhoea, Malaria is ever increasing especially among children.
The evictees of Mandala had submitted a proposal for 3200 to the central government in 2008 under BSUP-JNNRUM, a secretary from Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation also visited Mandala but the proposal was not finally approved. The same proposal was then submitted under Rajiv Awas Yojna (RAY), where the evictees were given assurance of making Mandala the pilot project of RAY. Now that the Rajiv Awas Yojna has been shelved by the central government, those who have been struggling since 11 years for their housing right are full of discontent and distrust.
The only demand that the people of Mandala are putting forward is that they be allowed to build kuchcha houses on vacant lying Mandala land (temporarily) giving them all the basic amenities, until any housing scheme/policy comes into being. Under that housing scheme/policy, the government can thereafter survey all the residents and rehabilitate them accordingly in their permanent households. The same demand is being constantly sent to the Chief Minister of Maharashtra, the Housing Minister of Maharashtra and the Collector by the satyagrahis. If this demand not fulfilled, the evictees of Mandala would be compelled to take a stringent action and which may as well be termed as unlawful.