Sion Koliwada: Land of Mumbai’s oldest residents under immediate threat

Sion Koliwada is a settlement of the indigenous Koli or fisherfolk community of Mumbai. They are the original inhabitants of the city. A GR from 1939 proves that the Kolis have been living here since then.

GR proving Kolis were inhabitants since 1939

In 1999, builder Sudhakar Shetty approached the residents with plans to redevelop the land. When he did not get the requisite 70% consent, he forged signatures on the consent forms. On one consent form dated  20/7/1999, is the signature of Eknath Koli who had died two years ago in 1997. Another consent form has the signature of Lilabai Vishnu Patil, signed in English, even though Lilabai is actually illiterate and has only ever used thumb prints for all her official documents.

Consent Form with forged signature- Eknath Koli

Death certificate of Eknath Koli

Consent form with forged signature- Lilabai V Patil

Lilabai Patil thumb impression (proves that her signature was forged)

In 2006, Sudhakar Shetty’s construction company, Sahana Developers, demolished two chawls  (hutments) next to the Koliwada, that were built on the Education Department’s land. The land used to house a primary school which was later used as 7 residential quarters for teachers.  On this land, the builder constructed three rehabilitation buildings for the Koliwada to shift into. How he got permission to demolish the chawls and build on the Education Department’s land is a mystery even to the BMC. An RTI filed by the residents of the Koliwada demanding to know where the teachers were moved, found the BMC clueless.

On the 29th of May 2012, 60 policemen accompanied a BMC demolition squad to the basti. People stood in front of their homes to protest this illegal demolition. Police Officer Anant Rathe physically attacked Sunil Koli, a resident of the Koliwada and ordered his police force to strip women off their sarees if they stood in the way.

Police attack on May 31st Click for video

Frank Fernandes, Nelson Fernandes, Jayavanti Shivkar, Kalpesh Shivkar, Mayuri Koli, Indira Koli and Sunil Koli, along with Medha Patkar were dragged into the police vans and taken away to the Sion police station.  The police refused to take an FIR on the two cops’ misbehaviour.  Residents of slums from Golibar, Ambujwadi and Kandamwar Nagar came to the police station to support the Koliwada folk. Aruguments continued with the police until 8.30 yet no FIR was registered.

On 30th May 2012, the community got together to rebuild Kalpesh Shivkar’s house. The builder had in the meantime gathered about 50 of his security people and along with the police, tried preventing the people from rebuilding their house. The people sat adamantly, refusing to allow it to be demolished again. Two police vans and about 40 police people stayed on the whole night at the basti. Even the ACP, a senior police officer, sat outside the Chroma store across the road till much past midnight.

The next day on the 31st of May 2012, at about 5 pm, the police arrived again. Women from the Koliwada, Ambujwadi and Kandamwar Nagar were sitting on a peaceful protest when the police started to drag them away, many by their hair, into the waiting police vans. Madhuri Shivkar, Indira Shivkar, Jaywanti Koli, Pauline Nelson Fernandes, Komal Shivkar, Nanda Shivkar, Chitra Shivkar, Radhabai Ghode, Jaya Kharat, Kasabai Kondiramaghode, Lalitabai Doble, Salma Sheikh, Sindhubai Sonawane, Vijaya Keni, Mayuri Shivkar, Gnyaneshwari Shivkar, Vrushali Haredkar, Manju Aadityasingulibhana, Ganga Omprakashlubhana, Sangita Kharat, Sumitrabai Dhondibakamble, Vimal Dhoble, Laxmi Katur, Munni Sheikh, Sangita Misal from Koliwada and Jamil Bhai from Ambujwadi were arrested and taken to Sion Police Station. These 25 people were charged with Section 143, 147, 149, 152, 332, 353, 504 & 506. Madhuri Shivkar was additionally charged with Section 447 and 34.

List of people arrested

The police station gates were locked and no one was allowed in. There were reports that the women were thrashed and although no one was allowed inside, a police van with the arrested went to the hospital. Among the arrested is Munni Sheikh of Kandamwar Nagar whose 6-month-old child has been left without her mother for over 24 hours. Munni was also beaten inside the police station.

The hearing at Kurla Court took place on 1st June at 3 pm and they have been put under judicial custody for the next 3-4 days.

We request journalists to report on this grave issue of human rights abuse and the massive land scam that is taking place in Sion Koliwada. Contact Madhuri Shivkar’s number at 09892143242 for more information.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

25 arrested, many more beaten up by police in Sion Koliwada

On the 29th of May, the police and the BMC came to demolish homes in Sion Koliwada. Seven people including Medha Patkar were picked up, locked inside the police van and driven away to the police station. Kalpesh Shivkar’s home was demolished before the residents drove the bulldozer out.

Meanwhile at the police station, Medha tai and other residents wanted to file an FIR against police officers who manhandled the residents, particularly the women but the police refused to take the FIR.

Then on 30th May, when the residents of Sion Koliwada were helping Kalpesh Shivkar re-build his home, which was demolished illegally, about 50 securitymen hired by builder Sudhakar Shetty showed up with the police and threatened the basti people. 2 police vans stayed the whole night and even the ACP came to ‘protect the basti people’.

DCn8aMRfrDE

By the next day, word had spread and people from Kandamwar Nagar, Golibar and even Ambujwadi – a basti that is also facing the threat of demolitions , showed up to support the people of Sion Koliwada. At about 5 pm on the 31st, the police called a bulldozer to demolish Kalpesh Shivkar’s re-built home. Protesting women were brutally dragged, some by their hair to the waiting police vans and driven to the station where charges were filed against them. Madhuri Shivkar, a resident of the basti had put out a call for help on Swara the night before, was also arrested. In all 25 women and Jamil Bhai from Ambujwadi were arrested and sent into custody. One of the women has a 6 month old daughter at home.

At the police station, no one was allowed in. Tens of policemen and women guarded the gates.  There were reports that the women were thrashed.  Some of the arrested were taken to the hospital for treatment of wounds, after which they were taken away to the lock-up.

The bail case will be heard on June 1 in Kurla court.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

When High Court Judges usurp land meant for the homeless, where do the homeless seek justice?

When you ask about the court cases in Golibar now, the residents will wrly reply with the famous Hindi film dailogue. “Tareek pe tareek! Tareek pe tareek! “. The hearing on this Monday, the 7th of May, will be 20 months since the Golibar criminal case has been in the Mumbai High Court. In 2009, builder Shivalik Ventures had faked signatures of residents of Ganesh Krupa Society (GKS) in Golibar to claim the 70% consent it needed to redevelop the Golibar slum. On that list of signatories was Sulochana Pawar who had died four years before she allegedly gave her consent. Going by the rules of the SRA, this should have, at the very least, led to the ouster of Shivalik Ventures from this redevelopment project.

Instead, the then Slum Rehabilitation Authority(SRA) chief, Mr. S. Zende (remember this name, it’ll come up again later!) asks the residents of GKS to settle for a compromise. The police had been even more nonchalant and refused to investigate the case until the Court directed them to do so. Once on it, they were so baffled by this seemingly obvious case of fraud that for 20 months, they’ve been seeking extension after extension to complete their investigation. The Court has been very obliging. Meanwhile MHADA’s demolition squads, with police protection continue to break people’s homes.

So the government is clearly not on their side, specially after it backtracked on the GRs last year. The police never was. Their only hope of any justice was in the Courts. Until the Nyay Sagar scam came to light.

Akankhsha tai and other women from Ganesh Krupa are huddled around a copy of Janta ka Aaina, a community newspaper. They burst into cackling laughter. “Yeh toh apna Chandrachud hai!“(This is our Chandrachud!). Apna Chandrachud is Justice Chandrachud of the Mumbai High Court who has been hearing the matter of the Golibar GR case in the High Court. Now he’s on the frontpage, accused in a major land scam, along with Justice Khanvilkar who is hearing the Golibar criminal case (of the forged signatures). There are 13 other Judges and ex-Judges accused.
Nyay Sagar and Siddhant are two multi-storeyed buildings built on a plot of government land that was reserved for the homeless. The judges of the High Court led by then Justice Rebello (now Chief Justice of the Allahabad High Court) formed Nyay Sagar Co-operative Housing Society in 2001 and in collusion with Vilasrao Deshmukh  de-reserved all but 10% of this land and appropriated it for themselves. This change in the Development Plan of this plot, Survey No 341 (Part) CTS No 629 from being reserved for the homless to Residential was facilitated by some very senior bureaucrats, including Mr. Zende (the SRA chief who asked residents of GKS to settle for a compromise). What is shocking though is that the land was handed over to Nyay Sagar CHS much before it was de-reserved.

(click on markers for more info)



Even the de-reserving was a sham. Once it is decided that the reservation of a piece of land is to be changed, there is a notification which is open to the public for 30 days in case they have objections. This notification was made public on 16.6.2004 but just six days later, on 22.6.2004 ,the status of the land was modified. The Ghar Bachao Ghar Banao Andolan has filed a complaint with the Anti Corruption Bureau asking them to file an FIR.

Akanksha tai laughs when she reads the buildings are called Nyay Sagar (meaning Ocean of Justice) and Siddhanth (Principles). But then she asks soberly, “Now where are we to seek justice?”

THE WALL OF SHAME

THE ACCUSED IN THE CASE
1. Shri Vilas Rao Deshmukh, the then Chief Minister,
2. Shri Sangeetrao, the then Collector Mumbai Suburb,
3. Shri SS Zende, the then later Collector Mumbai Suburb,
4. Shri RC Joshi, Principal Secretary, Department of Revenue,
5. Shri Ramanand Tiwari, the then P. Secretary UDD,
6. Other Unknown Govt. Official/s.
7. Justice V C Daga,
8. Justice A M Khanwilkar,
9. Justice B R Gavai,
10. Justice S M Ghodeshwar,
11. Justice S Radhakrishnan,
12. Justice S A Bobde,
13. Justice P V Kakade,
14. Justice R Lodha,
15. Justice G D Patil,
16. Justice F I Rebello,
17. Justice D K Deshmukh,
18. Justice D B Bhosale,
19. Justice D G Karnik,
20. Justice J P Devdhar,
21. Justice DY Chandrachud


A letter from Justice Rebello to ex-CM Vilasrao Deshmukh misusing his official letterhead for a non-official matter
More documents will be made public soon.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

लड़ेंगे, जीतेंगे!

Inching towards victory! Shivalik Ventures’ involvement in Golibar was investigated by the  Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) and found to be fraudulent. Now we await the Chief Minister’s decision, who has, in the last few days cancelled 2 other SRA projects in Malvani and Chembur for similar reasons.

(text of the article below)

In its latest report, Comptroller and Auditor General has stated that no objection certificates were not obtained from landowners before going ahead with the slum rehabilitation project involving 125 acres near Santacruz

125 ACRES of land, 26,000 slum dwellings, and one builder — the main players of the controversial Golibar slum rehabilitation project in a nutshell.

All this has come under the scanner of Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG). In its latest report recently tabled before the state legislature, CAG states that there’s no evidence of no objection certificates (NOCs) from landowners in favour of the project.

Of the total area involved, 52 acres is private land, of which, CAG says, the builder — Shivalik Ventures — has possession of 22 acres, but no NOC is available on record. 43 acres belong to the defence ministry, two acres are owned by the central excise department, two acres by the state government, and the remaining 26 acres belong to MHADA.

 

According to the report, the developer was awarded the project without any transparent bidding, as envisaged in the housing policy. The report adds, “ Government also did not formulate any guidelines for selection of developer as well as implementation of the project.” The report also states, “ In this project, 43 acres of land belonged to the defence ministry and two acres were owned by the central excise department. No Objection Certificates from these two ministries were required to be obtained before approval of the project. This was not done.”

True cost of ‘free’

Last year, activist Medha Patkar sat on a hunger strike for nine days to stop the project and broke her fast only after assurances from the CM. Simpreet Singh, coordinator of Ghar Banao Ghar Bachao Andolan, said, “ This stinks of connivance between the then CM and the developer, as the CM had handed over nearly 125 acres to the builder without following a transparent bidding process. We have taken the matter to court and will fight for justice.”

THE OTHER SIDE

Kiran Jadhav, COO, Shivalik Builders, said, “ We have the project currently only on 28 acres of land to be very specific. Our project is on 1.12 lakh square metres involving 46 societies and we have 92 per cent consent from the slum dwellers, with 5,079 of them being eligible. We aspire for 125 acres of land development.

However, we haven’t yet got permission over there. Our focus is to develop all the vicinity where our project is coming up and we have already developed 10 rehabilitation buildings for slum dwellers.

Only after that will we construct the saleable component. We will construct municipal market, hospital, library and schools in the area.

There are people who are purposely spreading canards to spoil our project in spite of us being true and honest with it.

We reiterate, the project land sanctioned is only 28 acres right now and not 125 acres.” Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan was unavailable for comment.

A call to his mobile was diverted and the person who answered said, “ The CM is in an area where his phone isn’t reachable.”

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

An appeal to the Press and supporters of the people’s struggle in Golibar!

A few days ago the police had informed the residents that they will accompany the demolition team to Golibar’s Ganesh Krupa Society, on the 29th of February, Wednesday, 2012. There hasn’t been a notice for demolition, but this wouldn’t be the first time that demolitions have occurred without notices.The residents will not be going to work, and will stay home to protect their homes and protest in every way possible. This would be the fifth demolition drive since November of 2010, including many attempts when calls to the chief minister have led to verbal stay orders.

Previously in May last year, as many of you may have heard, there was a 9 day hunger strike by Medha Patkar which led the government to adopt a General Resolution, which amongst asking for a stay order, had asked for an independent committee to investigate the alleged fraud committed by the builder. However, the government later backtracked on the GRs, and the matter has now been in court for the last few months.

Thousands of people had later marched from Golibar to the Mantralaya to challenge the government’decision, but the builder managed to galvanize the press and give an impression that people supported the project, often by paying supporters and people who’re not even residents of Golibar. Similarly, the matter in the criminal court (case number 2207 of 2011) has been pending without any resolution, even after repeated court orders asked for the builder and the chief promoters of the builder to be chargesheeted for fraud.

The builder lobby may be reacting to the fears of the court, since recently the High Court order in the Hiranandani case, led to the immediate halting of all construction and directed the developers not to sell any flats, and to to construct 3,000 flats to be handed over to the State Government, which will alloted to Lower Income Groups and Middle Income Group. Previously, the land in question was, actually given on lease to Hiranandani (at 40 paisa per acre) for building houses for poor people but in gross violation of all terms and conditions it built skyscrapers, housing societies, Malls etc for rich and big businesses.

In Golibar, the land meant for ‘rehabilitation’ is already in the courts as the Defence Ministry has contended ownership of the land.
We appeal to all journalists and supporters of people’s rights to stand with us and please join us on Wednesday the 29th, where we will be more than happy to answer any of your queries about why we’re still fighting for our homes and our rights.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Homes that took 10 years to build demolished in 2 days – Vikhroli East

On the 16th of November, eight bulldozers rolled into Bhim Chhaya, a predominantly Dalit basti in Vikhroli East and over the next two days, flattened over 700 homes. Parts of the basti were set on fire and many people could not even salvage their belongings. Bhim Chhaya was one of the 19 settlements that was to be declared a slum as per the Government Resolution, after Medha Patkar’s fast in Golibar in May. Once declared a slum, they would have been eligible for housing under the Rajiv Awas Yojna, irrespective of when they settled there.

Most people moved to Bhim Chhaya in the late 90s when it was just a swamp. Despite having settled the land over many years, during full moon nights when the tide is high, the basti is knee deep in sewage water. People who live here are daily-wagers – we met a woman who sells garlic near the station to feed her four little kids and ailing husband, another who washes dishes in five houses to support her family. Over the last one year, the PDS shop has been refusing to give them their ration; Instead it has been cancelling their ration cards, asking them for proof by way of electricity bills.

Families have been sleeping either on the footpath, or in the empty ground where the basti had stood. As night approaches and the police vans leave, bamboo structures covered with blue tarpaulin and political banners are quickly propped up for the elderly and children to sleep in. Then in the morning, just as quickly, they are torn down before the police arrive. Meanwhile, a bulldozer works through the day, digging trenches through the land. Three children were injured in the demolition; most others have been missing school to stay back to help their parents.

The police claim this is encroached forest land, but there are other buildings, including one built three months ago by the MNS that stand on the same plot. The residents of Bhim Chhaya are on a dharna just outside their basti land. They do not wish to be rehabilitated elsewhere. They demand pattas to their land, basic facilities like toilets and an anganwadi and the reinstatement of their ration cards.

It has been a morale-booster for the residents of Bhim Chhaya to see people from other slums-Ambujwadi, Golibar, Sion Koliwada, coming to support them. If you would like to lend your support in any way, please call Sandeep Yevle at 98193 07417 or Uday Bhai at 86524 35041.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , | 1 Comment

SHOCKING BETRAYAL BY MAHARASHTRA GOVERNMENT

Chikalwadi, Mumbai
INDICATION TO WITHDRAW ENQUIRY COMMITTEES FORMED TO LOOK INTO CORRUPT SLUM REHABILITATION PROJECTS

Govt. Pleader to file Affidavit in Mumbai HC;

Case listed at 3 p.m. tomorrow

The Maharashtra State government has, in a shocking breach of faith, indicated that they would scrap the committees formed during the 9-day long fast undertaken by Medha Patkar and others at Golibar, Mumbai and hand over the enquiry to an already existing High Powered Committee of the government.

The government had formed two committees comprising of nominees by the Government as well as people’s organizations and was to be headed by Retd. (Justice) Suresh Hosbet. The committees were formed as fact-finding committees that would look into the many illegalities in the implementation of the Slum Rehabilitation project at Golibar and 15 other critical cases of corruption and misappropriation through the Slum Rehabilitation schemes, brought out by suffering slum dwellers across Mumbai and make recommendations to the Government.

The residents of Golibar and Ganesh Krupa Society, one of the 46 project-affected societies in Golibar had, in a non-violent and peaceful manner been protesting against the fraudulent and repressive ways in which the Slum Rehabilitation project was being carried out on their land, by the developer Shivalik Ventures, which has changed its name many times over. Shivalik Ventures had forged signatures of the slum-dwellers to indicate that it has the mandatory 70% consent for taking up the Slum Rehabilitation project. Further, it has encroached on land belonging to the Ministry of Defence to build permanent rehabilitation for the evicted slum-dwellers. It has also flouted norms laid down the Railways Ministry, which has issued a Stop Work notice and ordered demolition of rehabilitation buildings flouting its norms.

Advocate Matoos, on behalf of the government, conveyed to the Bench comprising Justice Shri Y.B Chandrachud and Justice Shri Anup Mohta today at 5 p.m. at the end of the Court’s day that he has written instructions from the government. The judges asked him to file the Affidavit. Advocate Mihir Desai and Advocate Ashish Mehta informed the court that the respondents including activists Simpreet Singh and Medha Patkar have much to say on the issues at hand and will file the reply Affidavit tomorrow morning. The case will come up tomorrow before the High Court at 3 p.m.

Please do write immediate letters to the Chief Minister to desist from recalling any of the commitments made during the fast and not betray the common people of his State.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment