Community comes forward to support the Children Learning Center

Students of Children learning center

GBGBA’s Children Learning Centre was able to admit four children to the municipal school (Hindi Medium). These kids will be going to the school for the first time. It is quite of an achievement for an initiative that is just two months old. What is heartening is to see the support we are receiving our Children Learning Center is receiving from the community. The neighborhood is willing to go to the end of the earth to support the Center. As the number of children are increasing in the Center and given the space crunch we are unable to accommodate these many children in one small space. When we shared this problem, the community did not hesitate to open the doors of their houses for running our center. Now we have two houses which are given to us to run our Center every day for few hours.

 To sustain this Center for children, we would greatly appreciate your support by volunteering and/or donating.  Your generosity will make an immediate difference in the lives of many underprivileged children at the Center. In addition, we like to invite you to visit our learning Center, meet the kids and the community. We also would like to invite you for volunteering in hosting workshops on reading, art and theater. Any suggestion or ideas to make this initiative a better one are most welcome.

Please follow this link to donate.

To read more about the Children Learning Center click here.

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Nexus between forest officials and slumlords exposed

 

Letter received from Collector office

The nexus of Forest Officials and slumlord stand exposed as the Department of Forest sends Show Cause notice to Uday Mohite-an activist with GBGBA, working to save his settlement as well as Mangroves—as a tactic to harass him and thwart his activism. On 28th August 2018 Uday Mohite’s complaint about destruction of Mangrove by slumlords in nexus forest officials was taken cognizance of by the Office of the Collector, Mumbai Suburban District (MSD). This happened after several complaint he made over years to all the concerned authorities. The office of the Collector MSD had written a letter to all the concerned authorities asking to action on the officer as well as the slumlord named in Uday Mohite’s complaint. However, instead of doing so, the forest department sent a Show Cause Notice to Uday Mohite blaming him of destroying the mangroves while the real culprits remain unquestioned.

Letter received from forest department

Uday lives in a dalit majority community called Bheemchhaya part of which was demolished by the Forest Department this monsoon before a stay came from the Bombay High Court. While the stay continuing till today, the slumlord in nexus with the forest officials making illegal structures in the demolished area of the slum and selling it to the slum dwellers whereas the old dwellers of the demolished structures are threatened and thrown out of their land.

The slum dwellers are facing exploitation at many levels. They are exploited and harassed by the illicit nexus of forest officials and slum lords. Moreover, they are victims of government discrimination; authorities overlook the major culprits, while harassing the voiceless poor using the excuse of law enforcement.

For instance, project like coastal road, resort in Essel World etc. will require destruction of mangrove on massive level whereas the settlement of Bheemchhaya is legally protected and sub judice matter, yet the residents are harassed on false grounds.

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Bombay HC asks govt to either relocate or compensate the Mahul residents

Mumbai: In the latest order, Bombay High court, has ordered the Government of Maharashtra to either relocate the Tansa Pipeline Affected Persons to a better place or compensate them enough so as to enable them to rent a house in Mumbai. It is certainly a milestone in GBGBA’s campaign demanding relocation of Project Affected Persons living in resettlement site in Mahul to a better place but the final goal will be achieved only when the order gets implemented in letter and spirit.

Residents of Mahul suffering from serious health issues

In the detailed order dated 8th August, 2018 which was uploaded a couple of days ago the Bombay HC has asked the government to decide on one of the two options latest by 1st of October. We have not heard of any decision from the government till date. Residents of Mahul feel agitated by this callous attitude of the government even when the HC has approved of their grief.

Aggrieved residents of Mahul have decided to do the gherao of the MLAs of the areas where they were previously residing. As the residents of Mahul are still listed as the voters of their previous areas, they think that their MLAs-especially who are part of the party 78in power- are duty bound to work for their welfare and resolving the issues of their rehabilitation. The residents in Mahul resettlement site have been resettled from different locations in Mumbai. All these residents have written to their respective MLAs way before requesting them to resolve the issues of their rehabilitation. After receiving no words from any of the MLAs, the residents have decided to do gherao of MLAs outside their residents/office to ask what have their government done to resolve the issue of rehabilitation especially on the lines of directions given by the HC. The gherao will take place on 2nd of October.

Click here to see all the important grounds on which the HC given the above order.   

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Contribute towards GBGBA’s work with children

Dear Friends,

You will be happy to know that Ghar Bachao Ghar Banao Andolan has started a Children Learning Center (CLC)in one of the most marginalized area of Mumbai-Deonar dumping ground. People who are living here have built their houses on heap of garbage—such is the level of poverty in this area. It is also an evidence of how the commodification of housing is pushing the poorest citizens to the margins of the city. This is what GBGBA is fighting against since last 13 years and is actively campaigning to declare housing as ‘right’ and not as a commodity. Though fundamental changes in the policies have not been made yet but our struggle and negotiations in grassroots have saved the houses of thousands of poor in Mumbai. GBGBA is also a struggle by the poor slum dwellers to bridge gaps between haves and have-nots. The CLC is one such effort to work with the children in the poorest areas of the city and make them capable enough for formal education.

The CLC was the idea of one of the volunteers of GBGBA who wanted to create more and more awareness about importance of education. It is a community where majority of the residents are rag-pickers. Gulab bhai—the GBGBA volunteer don’t want these children to inherit their parents’ profession. When the CLC was opened on 22nd July, 2018 and the children started pouring in, it was shocking to see children up till the age of 12 have never gone to school, some were drop outs and some don’t get quality education in the existing municipal schools.

It is a month old initiative. We are working on to make it suitable for children of different age groups, deficiencies and capabilities. A few public spirited professionals are volunteering to make it happen. For more details of the process—follow this link.

ThisCLC has a nominal monthly expense of only Rs. 12,000 as we only have to pay to the part time teachers. We are getting books and stationary through donations. No children is charged a fee here. It is the least amount in which a lot of underprivileged children can be assured education opportunity. Any big or small contribution/commitment from your side will contribute making possible for these children to have a better world–out of the garbage.

You can commit to pay once or every month or for any specific period. Contribution can be full amount to any amount between Rs. 500-Rs. 12,000.

If you decide to contribute, do send your contribution online by following this link. Please email us the receipt after you have made the payment, at gbgbandolan@gmail.com so that we can keep track of who is sending the money. In case you have problem sending money online, you can write to us at the same email address.

Thank you,

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BPCL Blast: Hairline escape from catastrophe which could claim thousands of lives

The blast in the BPCL- Petroleum company at Mahul confirmed one of the fears that the residents of Mahul think can cause risk to their lives. The trauma of blast once again organised the residents of Mahul. All the residents got united under the Ghar Bachao Ghar Banao Andolan and marched to the local ward office of Municipal Corporation accompanied by Medha Patkar, on 10th August 2018. They also did ‘Thiyya andolan’ for ten days demanding a safer place to live.

Mahul which is located near chembur in mumbai is infamously referred as “where the poor are sent to die”. In the year 2017, 20,000 homes had been cleared in the demolition drive by the municipal corporation, and 30,000 Project Affected People were relocated to the Mahul complex in M-East ward, nearly 12 km away from their original settlement. Alongside the Eastern Expressway, 72 seven-story apartment buildings are located in close proximity to major industrial factories such as the Hindustan Petroleum and Bharat Petroleum refineries, Sea Lord Containers, Aegis Logistics Ltd, Tata Power, Rashtriya Chemical, and Fertilizers. Since then as this place extremely polluted, rehabilitated people are continuously demanding the government to rehabilitate them to a safer place.

People who were rehabilitated were in constant fear of accident which came true on 8th august when a major fire broke out at Bharat petroleum causing injury to 41 people. For about three to four days, all the people of Mahul were scared and restless as such explosion can cause serious health injuries like loss of hearing or respiratory diseases and as explosion may also lead to collapse of buildings surrounding it. There were several incidents reported of cracks on walls of their houses, broken glass windows. Residents found it difficult to sleep inside their houses during those days fearing another accident. This accident shows that Mahul is very unsafe place for human inhabitants, such accidents may happen again.

After shifting to Mahul the people displaced started facing serious health problems due to inhospitable environment and air quality which lead to death of 23 people. A survey conducted by KEM Hospital and cited by the National Green Tribunal (Western Zone) petition filed by residents of Mahul,  reports that “67.1% of the population had complaints of breathlessness more than 3 times a month.” Other common ailments include skin and eye irritation, choking, vomiting, and hair loss. Sources for the various illnesses include high levels of toluene diisocyanate, nickel and benzopyrene and other volatile organics. The poor drainage systems, solid waste removal, and contaminated water supply all exacerbate the negative health effects of the poor environmental standards.

Taking this into the consideration people of Mahul started protesting against this action of the government, after a continuous protest in various forms they could not achieve their demands. Hence they filed a case against the government in March 2018.

On the day of blast people of Mahul had the court hearing, “On that day we were coming from court, some people left for their work, children left for school and some of us left for home. While going back to their home near Ghatkopar which is approximately 12 km from the spot of the blast, we heard the horrible sound. When we reached home we got to know that it is the blast in the petroleum company at Mahul”.

On 9th August they decided to protest against this. On 10th August residents of Mahul held a protest rally to the office of ward officer Mr. Ghag. Mostly women were leading this protest. He was asked to take responsibility for the safety of rehabilitated people. “When people from various wards are rehabilitated in his ward, then it was his responsibility to tell the government that this place is not livable, now it is his responsibility to take care of us. We demanded him to move us to a safe place. He did not have answers to any of our questions. He said that he will come back to us within 48 hours, but he never turned up. ” said Rekha Ghadge, one of the protestor.

After the rally, we continued our protest with ‘Thiyya Andolan’ for 10 days but no government official came to listen to our grievances. they , then,  gheraoed the house of the housing minister Prakash Mehta and staged silent protest in front of his residence. Minister couldn’t ignore the crowd and came out of his house to address us.  He said that your case is in court so we cannot do anything about this but at the same time expressed his willingness to address the problem in order to dilute people’s anger. “We have submitted memorandum to the housing minister. We will decide our next course of action very soon.”, said one of the protesters.

Meanwhile, on 8th August court said that ‘No one can pressurize people to live in Mahul region, those who got houses at Mahul from government and do not want to live there can return their keys to government and continue to live in their original houses’. Court’s order on the issue of those who got rehabilitated in Mahul is still pending.

 

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Children Learning Center

Ghar Bachao Ghar Banao Andolan came up with new initiative, which is trying to provide quality pre-school education to the children coming from the underprivileged section of society and make them ready for the formal education process. We have started one such center-the Children Learning Center -at Shivaji Nagar which is situated in the Sanjay Nagar slum in Chembur West, Mumbai. The initiative of starting this Center was taken up by Mr Gulab Ansari with the support of Ghar Bachao Ghar Banao Andolan. Shivaji Nagar is a Muslim dominated area and the children who come to Center in the Sanjay Nagar belong to the same religion. The inhabitants of this community belong to the lower socioeconomic strata. The center run in the one-room multipurpose house of Mr Gulab Ansari. The duration of the class is 3 hours which begins at 2:00 pm and continues until 5:00 pm in the evening.

Functioning
There are about 53 students who are enrolled in the Center. An average of 40 students attends the classes. The strength of boys is more than that of girls. The number of enrollments is increasing swiftly and the strength of the class varies on a daily basis. The instructors/teachers have been hired from the same community.  Though medium of instruction in the class is predominantly Hindi, there are separate sessions to teach English.  The age group varies from 2 to 12 years. The initial resources were provided by Mr Ansari along with the salary of the teacher.
The class sits in two segregated columns of boys and girls. The teachers maintains an attendance register, and they takes attendance at the beginning of every class. Some of the lessons that  are taught in English include alphabet, numbers, and basic self-introduction. Basic calculations are also taught to the elder children.
Classes have been divided into two different age groups to adjust to the issue of accommodation and extreme age differences. For the children up to the age of 9, the class is from 2 pm to 3 pm and for those above the age of 9, it is from 3 pm to 5 pm.  Some of the other materials provided through Ghar Bachao, Ghar Banao are stationery materials; like the pen, notebooks, pencils, eraser, ruler, sketch pens, slates and chalks. The material is distributed according to the age group.
Children are also taught through fun games like secret passing, rhyme recitation, “London Bridge is falling down”, Pictionary etc. We also make arrangements for making the classes interactive by showing them videos involving various shapes, colours, objects, numbers and rhymes.

Shortcomings:
The major shortcomings that we observed in the past three weeks are quite similar to any such initiative which begins with a little or no resources. The primary problem of the Center is lack of proper infrastructure facilities; space is not enough to accommodate 40 students at one time. It not only becomes difficult for the teacher to manage the class but the children find it inconvenient to adjust.
Children from varied age group make it difficult to meet the appropriate learning requirements of each group of children. The children of the lower age group, especially; 2-5, are left out. The lack of books makes it difficult for the children to develop the reading skills. There are still a wide of children who do not go to school. Their learning here would not find them any utility since the system pass certificate is not available in this setting.  It has been observed that the children who go to school are usually better at grasping the teaching in the class than the ones who are not. The confidence is very low among the children and it is witnessed to even less in the students who do not go to school. The children of lesser age group require extra attention and care which they are not receiving since the class structure is so wide. There is a lack of awareness about the value and importance of education among the members of the community. The children who go to municipal school complain about the lack of monitoring and the lack of quality of education in the school setting.
The teaching is non-directional and there is no way of measuring the progress of the children. There is a number of drop-out youth also who is willing to learn but do not fall into the structure of the Center.  Mr Gulab Ansari seems to be a man of vision who is serious about the educational development of his community but requires outside aid and guidance.

Future Plans:

The future plans for coping with these shortcomings are to develop a proper course structure for both the batches of the class which would cater to their respective individual educational needs. Another plan is to involve the teacher in some sort of workshop so that she can learn more teaching skills. We are also planning on enrolling those students who are not receiving any formal education at schools. We have also started off with the profiling of the students which would help us to gain a better understanding and clearer picture. Another important we are planning to do is creating awareness among the parents about the importance of education; we have already met few parents and convinced them to enroll their students in schools. As one of the major shortcomings is lack of resources, we are also planning to build connections with other organizations that would be able to provide material resources for the better functioning of the Center.

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माहुलमधील पुनर्वासितांचे जीव धोक्यात

सन  २००४ नंतर मुंबई तील झोपडपट्ट्यांना नष्ट करण्याचे एक सत्रच सुरु झाले. २००३ मध्ये  मॅकिन्से एंड कंपनीने “व्हिजन मुंबई: ट्रांस्फोर्मिंग मुंबई टू वर्ल्ड-क्लास सिटी” हा प्रकल्प मुंबई त आणला आणि त्यासाठी जवळजवळ नव्वद हजार घरे नष्ट करण्यात आली. त्यात लाखोंच्या संख्येने लोकं बेघर झाली.  व्हिजन मुंबई हा प्रकल्प झोपडपट्ट्यांच्या पुनर्विकासाची संकल्पना घेऊन आला. त्यानुसार झोपडपट्ट्यांना रिकामे करून त्याठिकाणी नवीन बांधकाम करण्यात यावे यावे व त्यातील ६० टक्के जागा ही व्यावसायिक उद्दिष्टांकरिता राखीव ठेवावी अशी ती संकल्पना होती.  दलित आणि मुस्लिम वस्त्यांना नष्ट करून अनेक लोकांना बेघर करण्याचे २००४ साली सुरु झालेले सत्र अद्याप सुरूच आहे.

सन २००९ साली बृहन्मुंबई म्युनिसिपल कोर्पोरेशनने अचानक तासना पाईप लाईन परिसरातील वस्त्यांना गैरकायदेशीर आणि सुरक्षेच्या दृष्टीने धोका ठरवत उठवण्याचे ठरवले.  ही बाब न्यायालयात गेली असता मुंबई उच्च न्यायालयाने या परिसरातील पाईपलाईन पासून १० मीटर पर्यंतच्या सर्व वस्त्यांना उठवण्याचे व परिसरात राहणाऱ्या लोकांचे पुर्नवसन करण्याचे आदेश दिले. त्यात १६,७१७ घरे नष्ट करण्याचे ठरले व त्यातील केवळ ७,६१४ घरांतील नागरिकांनाच पुनर्वसनासाठी  पात्र मानण्यात आले. मात्र २०१७ साली २०,००० घरे तोडण्यात आली व त्यातील ३०,००० नागरिकांचे पुनर्वसन माहुल परिसरात करण्यात आले.

ग्रामीण भागातून शहरांमध्ये स्थलांतर करणाऱ्यांमध्ये दलित, आदिवासी, धार्मिक अल्पसंख्याक यांचे प्रमाण मोठ्या संख्येने असते. जातीय हिंसा, अस्पृश्यता, कमविण्याच्या संधानाची कमतरता ही दलितांच्या स्थलांतरणाची मुख्य कारणे आहेत. बंजारा आणि लामान सारख्या भटक्या जमाती ही त्यांची सांस्कृतिक आणि आर्थिक पध्दती म्हणून स्थलांतर करतात. (वर्तक के. २०१७).  केश्री आणि भगत (2012) यांच्यानुसार सामाजिक-आर्थिक दृष्ट्या वंचित गट जसे की आदिवासी आणि निम्न जाती स्थलांतर करण्यास अधिक प्रवृत्त होतात. मुंबई सारख्या शहरामध्ये देशभरातील गरीब जनता मोठ्या संख्येने स्थलांतरित झालेली आहे. गरीब व कामगार वर्गातील हे स्थलांतरित मुंबईत घर घेण्यास असमर्थ ठरतात व सार्वजनिक ठिकाणी राहायला भाग पडतात. त्यांना फुटपाथ किंवा झोपडपट्ट्यांमध्ये राहण्याव्यतिरिक्त कुठलाही पर्याय नसतो. (झा, एम.के., आणि कुमार, पी. बेघर प्रवास करणारे मुंबई.) जरी या गटांनी त्यांच्या गावांतून शहरात स्थलांतर केले तरीही शहरात देखील ते जातीय हिंसेचे बळी पडतात. दलित-मुस्लिम बहुल वस्त्यांना नष्ट करणे आणि माहूलसारख्या भागात जेथील परिस्थिती राहण्यायोग्य नाही अशा भागांत त्यांना घरे देणे हा सुद्धा त्याचाच एक प्रकार आहे.

माहुलमधील परिस्थिती

आरोग्य

माहुल परिसरात अनेक केमिकल फॅक्टरी आहेत त्यामुळे या  परिसरातील हवेतील प्रदूषणाचे प्रमाण जास्त आहे. केईएम हॉस्पिटलने केलेल्या केलेल्या एका सर्वेनुसार असे आढळून आले आहे की, या परिसरातील  ६१ टक्के नागरिकांना महिन्यातून तीनवेळा श्वासाचे आजार होतात, इतर आजारांमध्ये त्वचेची व डोळ्याची जळजळ, उलट्या आणि केस गळणे यांचा समावेश आहे. नित्कृष्ट निचरा प्रणाली, कचरा आणि दूषित पाणीपुरवठा तसेच खराब पर्यावरणाचे नकारात्मक परिणाम या पुनर्वासितांना भोगावे लागत आहेत. शिवाय या परिसरापासून ५-७ किमी पर्यंत आरोग्याच्या सुविधा उपलब्ध नाहीत. त्यासाठी नागरिकांना ५-७ किमी दूर गरपालिका रुग्णालयामध्ये जावे लागते. त्यासाठी रिक्षाचे जवळजवळ दीडशे रुपये भाडे त्यांना त्यांना द्यावे लागते.

प्रकल्पग्रस्त किंवा इतर कारणांसाठी लोकांचे ज्या भागात स्थलांतर केले जाते त्या भागातील अशा क्षेत्रासाठी अनुकूल वातावरणाची पातळी स्पष्टपणे परिभाषित करणारे असे  कोणतेही अधिकृत धोरणे नाही. न्यायालयाने अद्याप जवळच्या औद्योगिक प्रदूषकांच्या निर्दोषतेबद्दल निर्णय दिलेला नाही. नॅशनल ग्रीन ट्रिब्युनलने महाराष्ट्र शासनाला निर्देष दिले आहेत कि शासनाने औद्योगिक क्षेत्र व निवासी क्षेत्र यांमधील बफर झोन निश्चित करावी. हे निर्देश २०१५ मध्ये देण्यात आले होते मात्र अद्याप अशी बफर झोन निश्चित करण्यात आलेली नाही.  अशोक नगर मधून माहुल मध्ये पुनर्वसित झालेल्या महिलेशी याविषयी विचारना केली असता त्यांच्या सद्य परिस्थिती विषयी माहिती देताना त्या म्हणाल्या, की ” आम्ही राहत असलेल्या घरासंबंधी आमच्याकडे सगळी कायदेशीर कागदपत्रे होती, आम्ही रीतसर घराचा कर सुद्धा भारत होतो. तरीसुद्धा आमचे घर बेकायदेशीर ठरवून पाडण्यात आले. आमचे घर माहुल मध्ये आम्हाला मिळालेल्या घरापेक्षा मोठे होते. आता आम्हाला इथे वन रम किचन मध्ये कुठल्याही मूलभूत सुविधांशिवाय राहावे लागत आहे. आम्ही इथे राहायला आल्यापासून आमच्या घरातील सगळीजण आजारी पडली आहेत.  आमचा डॉकटर कडे जाण्याचा खर्च फार मोठ्या प्रमाणात वाढला आहे. डॉक्टर कडे गेले कि आम्ही सतत भीतीमध्ये असतो कि, आम्हाला त्वचेचा कर्करोगासारखे आजार तर झाल्याचे डॉक्टर सांगणार नाही ना. आम्ही न्यायालयात याचिका केलेली आहे मात्र तारखे व्यतिरिक्त तिथून काहीही मिळत नाहीये. इथे आधीच कितीतरी लोकांचे जीव गेले आहेत आणखी किती लोकांचे जीव गेलेत आणि आम्हाला न्याय मिळेपर्यंत आणखी किती जीव जातील हे सांगता येणार नाही. आम्ही मेल्यानंतर आम्हाला न्याय मिळेल का असा माझा शासन आणि न्यायालयाकडे प्रश्न आहे?

शिक्षण

आरोग्याबरोबरच या पुनर्वसित लोकांना शैक्षणिक सुविधांच्या कमतरतेचा सुद्धा सामना करावा लागत आहे. या परिसरात शाळा ५ किमी अंतररावर आहे. तसेच या परिसरात फक्त खाजगी शाळा आहेत. या शाळांची फी भरणे पालकांना अशक्य होते. तसेच मुलांना शाळेमध्ये पोहोचविण्याचा खर्च सुद्धा लोकांना परवडणारा नाही. मुलांना शाळेत सोडणाऱ्या पालकांना परत घरी येऊन त्यांना घ्यायला जाण्याचा खर्च परवडणारा नसल्याने त्यांना शाळा सुटेपर्यंत शाळेत थांबावे लागते त्यामुळे त्यांचा रोजगार सुद्धा बुडतो. शिक्षण हक्क कायदा, २००९ चे सुद्धा उल्लंघन या शाळांमध्ये होत असल्याचे आढळले आहे. त्यामुळे पालकांना अवाजवी फी चे ओझे सहन करावे लागत आहे . कॉलेज मध्ये जाणाऱ्या तरुणांना सुद्धा प्रवासाचा खर्च परवडणारा नाही.   

वाहतूकिचा प्रश्न

पुनर्वसन झालेल्या नवीन जागा निवासी वस्ती पासून लांब अंतरावर असल्याने, कामासाठीचा प्रवास वेळ आणि प्रवास खर्च मोठ्या प्रमाणात वाढला आहे. येथून सर्वात जवळचे रेल्वे स्थानक चेंबुर स्थानक (8 किमी दूर) आणि कुर्ला स्थानक (12 किमी दूर) आहेत. रेल्वे स्थानकांच्या प्रवासासाठी महाग रिक्षा भाडे द्यावे लागते किंवा बस वर अवलंबून राहावे लागते मात्र बसच्या वेळा सुद्धा निश्चित नाहीत. याचा सर्वात वाईट परिणाम हा स्त्रियांवर झाला असून कामावर जाण्यासाठी लांबचा प्रवास करावा लागणे त्या प्रवासादरम्यान हाल अपेष्टांचा सामना करणे नित्याचे झाले आहे. बऱ्याच स्त्रियांना त्यांच्या मालकांनी कामावरून काढून टाकले असून त्यांना जवळच्या परिसरात दुसरी कामे मिळणे कठीण झाले आहे. प्रशासनाचा मोठे ध्येय म्हणून महाराष्ट्र शासनाने सार्वजनिक वाहतूक पायाभूत सुविधांची ओळख करून दिली – एका नवीन भूमिगत मेट्रो प्रणालीत २१,००० कोटी रुपयांची गुंतवणूक केली. सार्वजनिक निधीचा हा प्रचंड खर्च मुंबईच्या उच्चवर्गीयांवर केला जातो.  तर त्याच वेळी गरज असलेल्यांसाठी सार्वजनिक सार्वजनिक वाहतूक सेवा उपलब्ध होऊ शकत नाही.झोपडपट्टीतील रहिवाशांना स्थलांतरित करण्याच्या प्रयत्नांना धोरणाद्वारे मार्गदर्शित करणे आवश्यक आहे ज्यामुळे त्या विस्थापित लोकांच्या रोजगाराच्या संधींमध्ये व्यत्यय येणार नाही.

रोजगाराचा प्रश्न

तानसा पाइपलाइन क्षेत्रातील लोक स्थानिक पातळीवर किंवा स्वयंव्यावसायिक आहेत. ते या भागात भाजी विक्रेते किंवा किंवा अन्य काम करीत होते. निर्वासित झालेल्या बहुतेक स्त्रिया घरगुती कामकरी होत्या, मात्र माहुल निवासी जागांपासून लांब असल्यामुळे या महिलांना नोकरी मिळणे अवघड झाले आहे. जरी या लोकांना जुन्या नोकऱ्या सोडायच्या नसतील  तरीही त्यांना दररोज प्रवास करण्यासाठी पैसे द्यावे लागतील ज्यामुळे दररोजचे खर्च वाढतो . या क्षेत्रात राहणारे बहुसंख्य लोक आर्थिकदृष्टय़ा दुर्बल घटकातील आहेत त्यांचे मासिक उत्पन्न १० ते १५ हजार आहे. आरोग्य आणि प्रवास खर्चात झालेली वाढ यामुळे मुंबईसारख्या शहरात राहणे या लोकांना कठीण झालेले आहे. माहूर क्षेत्रात राहणा-या महिलेला  त्यांच्या आजीवन स्थितीबद्दल विचारले असता ती म्हणाली , “आपल्या मूळ ठिकाणाहून इथे आल्यावर आम्ही आमचे आजीविकेचे पर्याय गमावले आहेत, आता मला आमच्या न्यायालयीन प्रकरण आणि आंदोलनाचा पाठपुरावा करण्यात वेळ द्यावा लागतो. मी अन्य नोकरी करू शकत नाही कारण आम्हाला सरकारने चालविलेल्या या अन्यायविरोधात संघर्ष करण्याची वेळ आली आहे. “

झोपडपट्टीवासियांच्या पुनर्वसनासाठी महाराष्ट्र सरकारच्या सध्याच्या प्रयत्नांमुळे नागरिकांचे जीवनमान, खासकरून पर्यावरणीय गुणवत्ता, आरोग्य सेवा, शिक्षण संधी आणि वाहतुकीच्या सुविधा या  बाबींकडे दुर्लक्ष केले जात आहे. आतापर्यंत, मार्गदर्शक तत्त्वांच्या अभावामुळे माहुल रहिवाशांना भयानक त्रासाचा सामना करावा लागत आहे. पुनर्वसन आणि पुनर्वसन कायदा २०१३ मध्ये, सामाजिक परिणामांच्या मूल्यांकनाची तरतूद आहे ज्या अंतर्गत सार्वजनिक प्रभावित क्षेत्रामध्ये सुनावणी  आयोजित करावी. तसेच या कायद्यानुसार सरकारने सामाजिक परिणाम मूल्यांकनाचा अहवाल सादर करावा आणि त्या अहवालाच्या आधारावर पुनर्वसन करावे लागेल जेणेकरुन पुनर्वसित लोकांच्या खाद्यान्न सुरक्षा, शिक्षण, आजीविका यांसारख्या मुलभूत मूलभूत सुविधांची काळजी घेतली जाईल. मात्र तरतुदींचे पालन होत नसल्याचे उघड आहे.

 

  

 

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“Do our lives matter?” asks project affected people rehabilitated in Mahul

In 2003, the global consulting firm McKinsey & Company came out with a project “Vision Mumbai: Transforming Mumbai into a World-Class City.” The ‘Vision Mumbai’ plan came with the idea of redevelopment of the slum, in which at least 60% of the area of the slum should be made free for commercial purpose. These plans led to the demolition of 90,000 slum houses in 2004-05. Those families who proved themselves eligible under 1995 cut-of-dates were rehoused and other were left homeless.

After that, this practice of demolition continued over the years making lakhs of people homeless and unaided. In 2009 the Bombay High Court ordered the forcible eviction and clearance of all hutments within 10 meters of the Tansa pipeline citing this slums as illegal and as a threat to the security of the area. Also, Out of 16,717 house that is to demolish from this area residents of only 7,674 are considered eligible for rehabilitation.  

By 2017, 20,000 homes had been cleared, and 30,000 Project Affected People were relocated to the Mahul complex in M-East ward, nearly 12 km away from their original settlement. Alongside the Eastern Expressway, 72 seven-storey apartment buildings are located in close proximity to major industrial factories including the Hindustan Petroleum and Bharat Petroleum refineries, Sea Lord Containers, Aegis Logistics Ltd, Tata Power, Rashtriya Chemical and Fertilizers.

Majority of the population which migrates from a rural area to urban and find shelter in slums are from Dalit, religious minorities, tribal groups. Caste violence, untouchability, lack of choice and economic activities, along with landlessness could have been the main reasons for outmigration of Dalits from villages.

Denotified tribes such as Banjara and Lamans are the one who migrates as their cultural and economic practice. Vartak, K. (2016)  Keshri and Bhagat (2012) note that socioeconomically deprived groups such as Adivasis and lower castes have a greater propensity to migrate seasonally. Mumbai is the place which attracts a large number of migrants all over the country. These migrants belonging to poor working classes unable to rent or own the houses in the city. They are forced to live in the public spaces such as pavements by roadsides or shelters in slums which do not qualify to be a home (Jha, M. K., & KUMAR, P. Homeless Migrants in Mumbai.) Even if these groups migrated to cities from their villages because of the reasons like caste violence the same structural violence follow them here also. Their houses are frequently demolished and they get dumped in the areas like Mahul, where living conditions are worst.  

Situation in Mahul

Health

The primary concern of residents of Mahul is the inhospitable environment and air quality that has contributed to serious health problems, including the death of 23 people. A survey conducted by KEM Hospital and cited by the National Green Tribunal (Western Zone) petition filed by residents of Mahul,  reports that “67.1% of the population had complaints of breathlessness more than 3 times a month.” Other common ailments include skin and eye irritation, choking, vomiting and hair loss. Sources for the various illnesses include high levels of toluene diisocyanate, nickel and benzopyrene and other volatile organics. The poor drainage systems, solid waste removal, and contaminated water supply all exacerbate the negative health effects of the poor environmental standards.

Should a resident of Mahul need medical attention especially for secondary and tertiary health care, they must travel over 5.5 to 7 km to receive affordable care in municipal hospitals. This journey can take over an hour by bus, or alternatively a rickshaw which costs Rs140 RS. Residents are not only forced to live in squalid conditions, but they are then prevented access to affordable treatment options.

There is no official policy that clearly defines the levels of ambient air quality acceptable for areas where people are relocated. Furthermore, there is no guidance for the duration and frequency of sampling that must be conducted prior to relocation of persons. The Courts have yet to issue the judgement on the culpability of the nearby industrial polluters, but the lack of accountability by the BMC to provide an adequate standard of living for these forcibly displaced people is obvious.

In fact, the National Green Tribunal had directed the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) to define a buffer zone between an industrial and residential area. The direction was given in the year 2015 whereby MPCB was asked to define the buffer zone in a four months’ time. To our shock, no buffer zone has been defined till date and instead the government decided to dump poor residents in an industrial area.

A woman living Ashok Nagar area whose family is one of the affected families of this eviction said, “I have all the legal documents and proof of our house in that area, even then it was declared illegal and demolished. Our house was bigger than the house we got in Mahur area. Now we have to live in this small one-room kitchen without any basic facilities such as water, health and education for our children. When we shift here in Mahur, all the four members of my family fell ill. We saw the situation of people living here and now when we thought of going to the doctor, we are in continuous fear that we should not get affected with the diseases like skin cancer, with which other people in the region are struggling. We are fighting for our rights and court gave us the date for next hearing. We don’t understand for how much time we have to fight for justice. So many people are dying in this region due to this polluted air, will we get justice after our death?

Education

In addition to concerns in healthcare access, families are now affected by barriers to education. The continuity of studies is impaired, as the current commute to school has been greatly extended by the relocation. The nearest school is now more than 5 km away. In addition, there are no free municipal schools in the area, only private schools, which cost Rs 1000 for entry and another Rs 900 per month. For parents with young children, work days are impacted, as the trip to ferry children to school is much longer. For some women, travelling back and forth is too costly, so women must spend the day at the school waiting for the school day to be completed so that they may accompany their children home. This further detracts from the available employment hours for these women.  For those attending college, the commute is now about Rs 200 per day, a fee that is unplayable for some. Shifting families from one place to another during an academic year has forced some families to stop sending their children to school due to increase in travelling cost which is unaffordable as all these residents belong to the economically weaker section. Right to Education Act, 2009 provides for free and compulsory education up till 8th standard. Affect on children’s education in Mahul is a clear case of violation of RTE where parents are forced to pay money or stop their children from sending to school.

Transportation

Due to the isolated nature of the new relocation site, travel time and travel costs for work have been greatly extended. The nearest railway stations are Chembur station (8 km away) and Kurla station (12 km away). Travel to the train stations requires an expensive rickshaw ride, a treacherous bicycle journey or a public bus that comes extremely infrequently.

The negative impact of relocation often falls most heavily on women. The long journey on (infrequent) public transportation is typically marked by harassment. Many women had to resign from their jobs which were predominantly in service industries, as the longer commute prevented them from caring for their families and they were now removed from their employment networks. According to 31-year-old Shilpa Sawant, this commute for some now included four different changes and could be up to ninety minutes one way, a major increase in time and money.

The Government of Maharashtra has identified public transportation infrastructure as a major goal of the administration– investing RS 21,000 crore in a new underground Metro system. This massive expenditure of public funds stands to benefit Mumbai’s upper classes, while simultaneously preventing access to basic public transportation services for those in greatest need. Efforts to relocate slum residents must be guided by policy that accounts for access to transportation so as not to disrupt the economic opportunities of those displaced.

Livelihood

People living in Tansa water pipeline area were locally employed or self-employed. They were working as vegetable vendors or street vendors after this sudden shift from this area to Mahul affected their livelihood. Most of the women who are displaced were the domestic worker, as Mahul is located far from the other residential areas it is difficult for these women to get jobs. Even if these people want to continue the old jobs they have to pay for travelling which results in increased daily expenses. Majority of people living in this area are from economically weaker section having the monthly income of 10 to 15 thousand.  Increase in health and travelling expenses make their survival difficult in the city like Mumbai.

The woman living in the Mahul region when asked about their livelihood status said, ” After shifting from our original place to here we lost our livelihood options, now I have to follow our court case and our movement. We have to spend lots of money on healthcare expenses. I cannot join another job as we have to spend time struggling for getting better shelter and fighting for this with the government. Our life has become miserable now”

Going forward

The current efforts of the Maharashtra government to relocate slum residents ignore critical determinants of citizen’s livelihoods, especially the environmental quality, access to health services, education opportunities, and access to functioning transport networks. Thus far, the lack of policy guiding such relocations has resulted in the subjugation of residents of Mahul to horrid conditions.

In the rehabilitation and resettlement act 2013, there is the provision of social impact assessment under which the public hearing should be conducted at the affected area. Also according to this act government should publish the report of social impact assessment and rehabilitation should be carried out on the basis of that report which should take care of all the basic facilities such as food security, education, livelihood etc. Rehabilitation does not mean only to relocate it should ensure the restoration of livelihood and education opportunities. But the ongoing rehabilitation practices of this government shows that it is only displacing people without taking into consideration any basic amenities.

Also, the privileged section of the society has many stereotypes regarding the people living in the slum. They have to live with the stigma of criminality. Being born in particular caste, religion and slum, with the stigma of criminality in their life become stigma itself. The disparities on caste and religion remain silenced. Their situation remained same for years.  These stigmas are the greatest challenge for housing rights movements to garner support from the mainstream society which carry stereotypical perception about slum dwellers. 

Strong policy guidelines should be created, implemented and enforced to ensure the continued, and improved, livelihoods of people that are displaced from their homes especially to protect the rights of poorest of the poor citizen of the city all residing in slums. There is a need to understand the meaning of ‘rehabilitation; deeper and wider. The central housing policy-Prime Minister Awas Yojana (Housing for All) or Slum Rehabilitation Authority in Maharashtra lacks this understanding and focuses only on the creation of tenements which are later reduced just into an asset. 

 

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