Social activist Medha Patkar has said that the government land in urban areas belongs to the poor and called upon slum-dwellers to launch a sustained struggle to assert their rights.

Speaking after flagging of a State-level jatha of the Slum Janandolana here on Sunday, Ms. Patkar criticised the government for its largesse to multinational companies and corporate firms by way of allotting government land for their real estate business while neglecting the dire needs of the houseless.

She said the slum-dwellers should fight against moves to take away their land. “This is another form of land grabbing launched by the government itself… we do not require an investigation by the CBI to find out who are the beneficiaries of the allotments by the government.”

Ms. Patkar said: “Reddy brothers may be behind bars, but how many land sharks have been punished?... the first priority of the government should be to provide housing to slum-dwellers. Unless we wage a battle to assert our rights, the political system and ruling class will gobble up all the available land.”

Ms. Patkar disagreed with the view that slum-dwellers were unorganised, and observed that they were unprotected and there was a need to create awareness among them to come under one umbrella organisation and wage a sustained struggle to demand their rights.

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