A Place to Stay Before They Break Our Home

We have filed a Writ Petition in the Bombay High Court appealing for a stay against illegal and forceful eviction by Deputy Collector (Enc./Rem.) Bandra.

On 21st September and 23rd December 2010, the Bombay High Court had passed orders directing M/s. Shivalik Ventures Pvt. Ltd., the Builder, to provide transit rooms to us, for us to vacate their homes. On January 20th, 2011, alongside Medha Patkar, we stood before the demolition squad. We were pushed, beaten and forced into vans that took us to Nirmal Nagar Police Station.

That evening three thousand slum-dwellers arrived from all parts of Mumbai and took out a rally in support of Ganesh Krupa Society.

We, the last 172 families, have been fighting a lopsided battle against the builder – Shivalik Ventures – and the Slum Rehabilitation Authority. The money power of private business combined with the muscle of the State (the police support the eviction drives in large and enthusiastic numbers) versus working-class people.

On 21st September, 2011, the Court had ordered us to vacate Ganesh Krupa Society. It had also provided two conditions for us leaving our homes: Legitimate transit camp accommodation to be provided by the builder and rooms in a legitimate rehabilitation building within 22 months.

The Writ Petition we have filed on the 25th points out that even the Eviction order gives us a right to have these conditions fulfilled before we are made to vacate their houses. However, neither is the transit camp legally constructed, nor was any General Body Resolution sought from us, the members of the Society under redevelopment, for construction of a high rise rehab building. In fact, the Petition challenges the very Notification dt. 16.04.2008 as illegal based on which the SRA has approved the Lay Out of High Rise Buildings without having General Body Resolution of residents.

According to Development Control Regulation (DCR) 33 (10) and DCR-33(14), the transit camp rooms have to be 225 sq feet in area. The present rooms are 150 sq feet. There is no running water except for half-an-hour a day, and that too, contaminated. These are seven-storey buildings, but the lifts don’t work.

The rehabilitation building proposed to house us is 14-storeys high. The earlier height for rehab buildings was 7 floors, assuming that slum-dwellers would not be able to afford to pay the maintenance cost of living in a high-rise. The SRA and the builder do not have the consent (which it is mandatory to take, according to LOI issued by SRA) of the General Body of Ganesh Krupa Society, to build this 14-storey building. They never convened a meeting with us, the residents, to discuss this. We are only following the High Court’s previous (Sept 21st 2010) order by insisting that we be given transit accommodation in keeping with DCR 33 (10) and a legal rehabilitation building, before vacating our houses.

As it stands many of us have been brutalized by the police in the last demolition drive on Jan 20th, the belongings of 19 families were forcibly shunted to the transit camp, and they are sleeping in the open.

We are also worried that in the event of the Defence Ministry taking back its 64 Acres of land where M/s. Shivalik Ventures is implementing their SRA scheme, we will have to reside in the transit camps in pathetic and inhuman conditions.

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