One hundred and seventy-two familes and Counting! Our community of brave citizens, asking the right questions, is increasing everyday.
Welcome to Khar East, where a large community of people live. We are the working classof Mumbai, born and raised here. We settled this land when it was a marsh. We have lived here 60-plus years. We have paid taxes on this property. Our post is delivered here!
In January 2010, we were forced to ask some questions:
Our slum, Ganesh Krupa Society, legally owned, legally slated for redevelopment under the Slum Rehabilitation Scheme was suddenly given an eviction notice. We asked why. The SRA said that we had given our consent to Shivalik Ventures. So MHADA and Shivalik Ventures were trying to get us off the land, ostensibly to “redevelop us”.
One problem though. We had not approved of nor appointed this particular builder, with the 70 per cent majority that is mandatory. Through an RTI application we found that our signatures had been forged on the consent letter. We had to move the Court to force the local police to lodge an FIR against the builder and his team of “helpers”. Three and a half months have passed, but the police has not investigated the case. We have moved Court again to force the investigation forward. Under these circumstances, MHADA and the police, in a 600-strong contingent, arrived at our society on January 21st. Please watch the demolition video and the people’s testimonies to see what took place that day in the name of Justice!
Despite such a serious pending criminal investigation, we have been ordered by the High Court and Supreme Court to vacate our houses. But they too had put down two conditions: that we be provided decent transit camp accomodation and rehabilitation housing in 22 months. The transit camp is dirty, water comes for half an hour in the day, they are 7-storey buildings where the lifts don’t work, and the rooms are smaller than stipulated in the SRA rules.
Coming to the rehabilitation building being constructed for us – it is 14-storeys high (illegal, according to the SRA rules) and is built on disputed land. The Indian Air Force has taken MHADA and Shivalik Ventures to Court for building 7 rehab buildings on what they claim is their land. The case is being heard, even as we write this.
So, there’s a forgery case, the transit camps are not habitable and the rehabilitation building is illegal. But even under these circumstances, MHADA and the police are very keen to break down our houses. They take justice (with regard to the poor) very seriously, as you can see.
We are 172 brave families. We have taken on the might of the builder and the State. But we have the support of Medha Patkar and the Ghar Bachao Ghar Banao Andolan, thousands of fellow slum-dwellers and many families of our own larger community, Golibar. They are starting to understand that their fate is going to be worse than ours soon enough, if they don’t start asking the right questions too!