Whatever you want to achieve in the name of the law, fight on the streets but in a non-violent manner, social activist and national convenor of National Alliance of People’s Movements Medha Patkar said here on Monday.

“People of Sompeta could stop 4,000 acres of wet land from being converted into industry. That kind of “war” is needed. Several Acts like RTI, NREGA, Forest Rights Act, came because of non-violent struggle by the people and not due to political parties. People fought for 25 years over Narmada dam issue…. Ultimately it is people’s power and we have to strengthen it”, Ms. Medha Patkar said at a public meeting.

The NAPM leader mainly spoke about the displacement of poor people in the urban areas, farmers and fishermen in the rural areas in the name of development and came down strongly on the PCPIR, costal corridor and other corridors that would displace lakhs of people and turn huge extents of agriculture land into industrial areas. The good number of slum-dwellers, many of them women, responded well to her speech.

Ms. Patkar congratulated the slum-dwellers on their fight against eviction and shifting of their colonies and even facing arrest and being remanded.

The State Government and GVMC were not following the Acts and GOs and this should be condemned, she and other speakers said. This was the situation in every urban area she said. Poor people who live in slums and build the cities are the real citizens of the urban area and they should have the right to have their own houses on the land on which they were living, she asserted. The NAPM leader came down heavily on the governments which were adopting methods objectionable to the Constitution and tenets of justice while implementing schemes and programmes named after Gandhiji, Nehru and Ambedkar. These leaders wanted development but not at the cost of people. But this was in contrary today, she said.

The public meeting was organised by the Movement for People-Centred Development and Murikiwada Nivasula Samkshema Sangham. Convenor of MPCD J.V. Ratnam presided. Former Union Secretary E.A.S. Sarma wanted women slum-dwellers to get inspired by Ms. Patkar. State vice-president of POW M. Lakshmi explained about issues and agitations of slumdwellers.

Convenor of Forum for Better Visakha C.S. Rao, P.V. Ramana, K.S. Chalam, T. Sreeramamurthy, Krishnabai, S.V. Ramana, Venkateswarlu of IFTU, and others spoke. Arunodaya troupe sang songs on the problems and agitations of slum-dwellers.

More In: Visakhapatnam