Thousands of urban poor of Mumbai marched on the streets of the city, covering a distance of about 30 km in two days, demanding land, housing rights, dignity and equal rights. The march was organised by the National Alliance of People’s Movements, under the leadership of Medha Patkar.
The march began on January 1 from two different areas in Mumbai, namely Govandi and Golibar, to demand the implementation of the Rajeev Awas Yojana as self-development towards right to shelter. The protesters halted at Shivaji Park in Dadar on Tuesday night and resumed the march towards Mantralaya in South Mumbai on the morning of January 2. The protesters were stopped in South Mumbai and taken to Azad Maidan.
“The builders under the disguise of slum rehabilitation have formed a nexus with politicians, bureaucrats and administration. We will be submitting a letter describing all the frauds committed by these builders against the poor of this city. The shelter of these people will be snatched away and we will not let this happen,” said Ms. Patkar.
Krushna Nayar of Jawahar Nagar in the western suburb of Mumbai slammed the Congress-NCP alliance government for siding with builders. “They claim to give us, the slum dwellers, free houses. Let me remind them that these are not free houses. The builders will use our FSI to build towers and we will be replaced in a new home. The government should stop fooling us to benefit the builders,” he said.
In the evening, a 20-member delegation went to meet Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan with the letter of demands, but was stopped as authorities wanted only 6 people in the delegation. Following this, the delegation returned and decided to meet only when a proper appointment and enough time for discussion is given to all the representatives of the delegation. The protesters continued to sit on Azad Maidan till last reports came in.