Ghar Bchao Ghar Banao Andolan (GBGBA), an autonomous grassroots movement of the poor working class in the slums of Mumbai, since 13 years has raised the issue of absence of basic amenities in many of Mumbai’s slums before the Maharashtra Human Rights Commission. Demand was also raised to set up a time bound grievance redress and service delivery system, in the absence of which requests remain pending for years. The Commission suggested us to refer to ‘Right to Service Act’ while making any request for basic amenities in the slums from the Mumbai Municipal Corporation.
We are, at the moment, focusing on provision of water and sanitation in slums. We have proposed to the Mumbai Municipal Corporation certain ways by which the provision of water and sanitation can be made in a fast track mode. However the Corporation still not seems to be serious about making provision on urgent basis. We are planning a series of meetings with local ward officers of Mumbai Municipal Corporations with the reference of the Act. Since the Maharashtra state ‘Right to Service Act’ and its Rules are only in Marathi, it is difficult for some of us to refer to and effectively use specific provisions of the Act/Rules. The Commission is also open to make recommendations, if the the said Act/Rules don’t have provisions for ensuring basic amenities in a time-bound manner.
It would be a great help if someone (preferably a person knowledgeable in law) volunteers to carefully read the Act/Rules and help us find out relevant provisions which we can be relied upon while meeting the ward officers. Kindly respond as soon as possible.
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GBGBA has been consistently organizing the working class, toiling people Mumbai’s slums since 2004 and has fought numerous battles with the authorities to ensure basic right to the city and its services. About 10,000 protesters from slums in 2013, along with social activist Medha Patkar took out a massive rally on the streets of Mumbai, raising issues ranging from eviction to fraud in rehabilitation projects (detailed article about the protest can be read here). During a ten days protest, a delegation led by Medha Patkar met Mumbai’s Municipal Commissioner. The delegation complained about the absence of basic amenities in slums. The Commissioner was prompt in issuing directions to concerned officers and so were several GBGBA activists in following up with the concerned departments. But even after 4 years, , no significant progress is seen on the ground, as on date. The attitude of the Corporation makes one wonder if they think the slum dwellers are ‘water-proof’ and ‘sanitation-proof’ and that people in the bastis can survive without these services for years together !
The unavailability such services have forced slum dwellers to opt for private water purchase at higher and arbitrary rates and defecate in the open. GBGBA also made a parallel complaint to the Maharashtra Human Rights Commission during the ten days protest about the absence of basic amenities. The Commission took cognizance of people’s plight after four long years and started hearing in April this year. During the first hearing, the Commission asked the Mumbai Municipal Corporation to sit with the delegation of GBGBA and find out a solution to make provision of basic amenities in Mumbai’s slums. A meeting was called by the Corporation on 30th June. GBGBA raised certain issues of homelessness in Mumbai and proposed fast track methods for making provision of water and sanitation on an urgent basis. Everything was taken on record and was forwarded to the concerned department in the same manner as was done in 2013 by then Municipal Commissioner. During the second hearing on 4th July, GBGBA expressed its dissatisfaction with the Corporation’s way of dealing the issue and demanded a time-bound service delivery system. The Commission had then asked us to refer to ‘Right To Service Act’ while making any request for any service and also assured us to pass suitable orders to ensure basic amenities if ‘Right To Service Act’ do not have enough provisions in the next hearing. Commission has given more than two months time to Mumbai Municipal Corporation and GBGBA to get the matter resolved before the next hearing which is posted for 28th August 2017.