Medha Patkar ends fast on day 9

Medha Patkar, leader of the National Alliance of People's Movements (NAPM), ended her nine-day fast at Mumbai's Golibar colony on Saturday after the government handed her two resolutions incorporating the demands of the agitators.

“It is a victory of the lakhs of people fighting for their right to live in the financial capital of India with dignity,” Ms. Patkar said.

“The real fight is about the right over land of the poor who make this city what it is. Today the land is being given or grabbed by the builders and influential people like Mukesh Ambani who has built his 27-storey building on the land of the Wakf Board. [About] 33,000 acres of land, which was either encroached or is free, is now available after the Land Ceiling Act was revoked.”

This gives a breather to the residents of Ganesh Kripa society, in Golibar, as the State has agreed to halt demolitions till a Committee concludes its probe into the alleged irregularities by the developer, Shivalik Ventures. It is also a milestone in the protracted battle the slum dwellers have been waging against the builder.

Residents themselves have, over the year, led black flag marches and hunger strikes, which included children, to protests against “fraudulent” consents and “filthy” makeshift shelters.

The latest development showed “our agitation is going in the right direction,” Devasadhan Nair, a resident of Golibar toldTheHinduover telephone.

However, it was not enough. “The halt to demolitions brings us temporary relief. However, it does not end there,” he said.

There is the issue of probing the matter and revoking the 3K clause of the Slum Rehabilitation Act. We also want Shivalik to be de-recognised for its links with the 2G scam.”

Unitech, whose managing director is indicted in the 2G scam, has a stake in Shivalik.

Mr. Nair said although the builder claimed to have demolished 72 homes, the people had not evacuated the place and continued to live there.

“Our immediate challenge is the threat of diseases with the onset of rains.”

Ms. Patkar spoke about launching another satyagraha for land rights on October 2 in Mumbai “to capture government land for the poor people” of the city.

“Our Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan has a bigger battle ahead and against a powerful lobby. If he intends to fight it, we are with him. Or else, we are on the path of struggle and justice and dignity for poor,” she said.

NAPM, in a press statement, said that the government had agreed to five of the major demands of the andolan.

They include declaring some 25 settlements as slums, a meeting with the government to discuss the Rajiv Awas Yojana in Mumbai, activation of the high-power committee appointed by the Bombay High Court in 2005, a probe into the Golibar irregularities and another into cases of “fraud” under 3k in 15 societies.

The two committees for Golibar and 3K will be submitting their reports on June 15 and September 30 respectively.

  • Government agreed to five of the major demands, says NAPM

  • Patkar plans another satyagraha on October 2 in Mumbai to capture government land for the poor