We oppose all housing schemes that are intended for slum-dwellers, but don't involve them: Medha Patkar

Social activist and national convenor of National Alliance of People's Movements Medha Patkar has said that clearing slums was like killing of communities, and it was “unbearable” and “intolerable”.

Ms. Patkar, who was here on Friday to participate in the first State-level convention of slum-dwellers organised by the Slum Janandolana, Karnataka, told presspersons that despite the legal provisions for slum-dwellers of the State, they had faced socio-economic and political discrimination for decades. It was sad to note that slum-dwellers were subjected to exploitation and forced to live in inhuman conditions, she added.

Taking serious exception to the practice of treating slum-dwellers as “illegal residents” and “encroachers”, Ms. Medha wanted to know how could they be treated in this manner when they are legal voters and contributed to the development of towns and cities.

Referring to the “delaying tactics” employed by the B.S. Yeddyurappa Government when it came to acting against encroachments, Ms. Patkar said: “When some influential persons encroach on government lands, rarely any action is taken against them. But when it comes to slum-dwellers, immediate action is sought to evict them even when they have been residing in the same places for decades.” She said there was need to remove the social stigma regarding slum-dwellers. Ms. Patkar clarified that the associations were not against development or setting up of industries, but were against any development works that are taken up after evicting slum- dwellers.

“Slum Janandolana opposes all those housing schemes that are intended for slum-dwellers, but don't involve them. We want the government to build houses for the slum- dwellers after involving them in the process of construction. Let the land remain with the slum-dwellers. We are against any scheme where the land ends up in the hands of developers or industrialists,” she said.

Ms. Patkar said land right was the main demand of slum-dwellers. State convenor of the Slum Janandolana, Karnataka, A. Narasimhamurthy, said the movement aimed at ending the discrimination and exploitation faced by slum-dwellers.

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