COMMUNAL RIOTS AND THE LAND MAFIA
Nivara Hakk, which was working among the slums in Mumbai, got drawn into the problems faced by the rag-tag basti dwellers in the national park after the outbreak of the 1992 communal riots in Mumbai. With the collapse of law and order in the city during the 1992-93 riots, many of the Muslim bastis in the national park were targeted, with horrific stories of rapes, killings and burning. Many of the riot-scarred Muslims found safety in relief camps in Pathanwadi and Kurar areas on the border of the national park, in enclaves where a Muslim-majority lived. Nivara's involvement began with relief and rehabilitation in these slums, and extended to organizing their return and security when they shifted back to their ramshackle homes.
Once the communal fires subsided, Nivara Hakk discovered the world of extortion, violence and greed in the national park slums. In the Kurar and Pimpripada areas of Malad, slum-dwellers of Matanggarh, Ambedkar Nagar and Azad Nagar became victims of land mafia gangs led by Bansi Rajbhar, Jameel and Balchand, who sold plots, evicted residents, fought amongst themselves for control of turf and extorted money using gangs of sword and chopper-wielding youths. Nivara Hakk in these initial days played an important role in organizing the people against these mafia gangs, and appealed to the government and police to set up outposts to control the violence. These campaigns brought media focus to these blighted slopes of the forests, and the state government suddenly realized that by 1995 encroachments were "expanding at the rate of 2 hectares a month", according to Times of India report dt 4th July 1995.
By then, the first demolitions had began. In Mumbai, the Shiv Sena government came out with a policy for housing all slum-dwellers who were enumerated by 1 January 1995. In one of the first big Nivara Hakk morchas, on 19 October 1995, over 2,000 protestors, including 400 women with babes in arms, gate-crashed into the deputy conservator's office in Borivali demanding recognition and protection to slums included in Jan 1995 voters list.
The forest guards along with Police however continued to harass and demolish hutments. Nivara Hakk also demanded that minimum civic facilities like potable water and toilets be allowed to the slum-dwellers which was denied by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) objections by forest officials. Nivara's investigation also revealed that of the 5 lakh slum dwellers who lived in bastis stretching from Film city in Goregoan, in the South to Dahisar in the North, forest officials had accorded recognition only to 720 families who were enumerated in 1978. For the remaining it is a life a misery crushed under the weight of extortion of slum lords and corrupt officials. Unhygienic conditions in the slums also took its toll and 24 deaths due to gastroenteritis were recorded. Nivara Hakk in its representations pointed out that if further encroachment had to be stopped, severe action on anti-social elements and slum lords needed to be taken, and a clear policy for rehabilitating slums on forest land developed.
The Nivara Hakk-led struggle for inclusion included a massive morcha of over 50,000 people to Mantralaya on 8 April, 1996, and a campaign of boycotting the ensuing assembly elections, if the demolition drives by the forest department was not called off. A landmark Bombay High court decision in April 1996 directed the government to include the forest slums too in the rehab scheme under the Slum Rehabilitation Authority (SRA) developed by Maharashtra Chief Secretary D K Afzalpurkar. On the ground, on 27 February 1996, more than 1000 slum dwellers, mostly women and children forced a demolition squad to beat a hasty retreat when the crowed squatted on the roads in front of the bulldozers. They were joined by huge crowds from Matangarh and Ambedkar Nagar slums.
These struggles had the desired impact and in a meeting with Nivara representatives, the state government agreed to include them in the 1995 slum protection policy. A report in the Times of India of 9 April 1996 said: "After a meeting with slum dwellers representatives on Monday chief secretary Dinesh Afzulpurkar said "irrespective of whether these people are living on central or state govt. land, they will be covered by the same policy provided they have been living in the area before Jan 1, 1995 and their names appear on the electoral rolls. Govt. would correct affidavit."
However, as is the usual sleight of hand in government, these promises were accompanied by a huge demolition drive, perhaps the biggest Mumbai had ever seen. Preceding the monsoon, when demolitions are not possible, June of 1996 saw nearly 30,000 hutments being bulldozed and evicted from the national park despite condemnations and protests by Nivara Hakk.
BOMBAY HIGH COURT LEADS THE EVICTION DRIVE
These slums were unique. They were on protected National Park land; and therefore they were not only seen as violating the stringent Forest Acts, but they also disturbed the middle class psyche who saw them as serious environmental offenders. Therefore, Nivara Hakk found very little public support against the onslaught by the government. The principal actor in the National Park drama was the Bombay Environmental Action Group (BEAG) and its hard-nosed joint convenor Debi Goenka, who cared jack about human displacement in his defense of forest resources.
The BEAG first filed its public interest litigation (PIL) in the form of a writ petition before the Bombay High Court – known as the A R Bharati and others versus BEAG case – on 8 February 1995, and it was first heard on 7 April 1995. Counsel for forest department and BEAG said the law protecting forests had been breached and that the government was encouraging encroachments. BEAG pleaded for severe action for the removal of the hutment, 'encroachments' like that ordered by the Supreme court to clear the ridge forests around Delhi. The court however took cognizance of the new amendments protecting slum dwellers whose names figured in the electoral rolls of 1 January 1995. It therefore passed interim orders staying demolitions, and ordered a survey to determine those who fell within the 'protected' category.
The submissions before the court included government statements that it had identified 50 slumlords against who action had been initiated. Each slumlord has sold more than 1500 dwellings at prices ranging from Rs 3000 to Rs 10,000. They used court fee stamp papers to carry out illegal 'sale' transactions. The most common modus operandi for encroachments was to build temples and mosques in buffer zones, and construct schools. Upto 1995, the government submission conceded the total encroachment was 772.82 hectares of forest land.
Thereafter, once the forest department submitted its survey identifying 33,000 hutments families as protected under the 1 January 1995 provision, the Bombay High Court heard the matter again and passed a detailed interim order on 6 December 1996. The court said the encroaching slums had no right to settle on forest land, and directed the government to find alternative rehabilitation outside the National Park within 18 months for the 33,000 eligible slum families who were in the electoral rolls of 1, January 1995. However, while staying demolition against this 'protected' category, it directed the forest department and state government to evict all other encroachments including commercial establishments and residents not within the cut-off date.
This order sealed the fate of thousands, as the state government had a free hand to operate without political interference. An estimated 50,000 homes and over 2 lakh people were bulldozed and evicted from the national park in the months that followed. It was perhaps the largest mass eviction the country has seen. Many people died.
In another interim, follow up order, the Bombay High Court (name of the bench?) laid out another set of authoritarian directions. The fiat included stoppage of bus routes and tourist buses inside the national park, all telephone connections to be cut and fresh lines to be disallowed, demolish all unoccupied huts/structures, and household materials to be confiscated, one battalion of SRP for demolition work, watch towers to be built every 500 meters, aerial reconnaissance through helicopters, and schools, ration shops, and dispensaries to be demolished after the 18-month period. In a signed article in The Hindu by retired Supreme Court Judge V K Krishna Iyer, the legal luminary condemned the Bombay High Court measures and likened them as war preparations by a hostile state against it own people.
The carnage that followed on the slopes of the national park was to be seen to be believed. On 20 May 1997, in the height of summer, over 700 hutments in the Pimpripada area were demolished despite they having proof of residence prior to 1 January 1995. A Bombay High Court order protecting the Pimpripada slums was also ignored.
Near Pimpripada, Matangadh was the scene of another major fracas on 6 November, 1997. Nivara Hakk convenor Gurbir Singh, along with suspended Deputy Municipal Commissioner GR Kharnar, and a large group of protesting women stood before the bulldozers during a demolition drive. Though the protest was peaceful, police began unprovoked lathi charge. Gurbir Singh was surrounded and hammered with lathi blows on the head and shoulders by more than 20 constables, leaving him with a left elbow fracture and with deep welts on his back. Another journalist of Asian Age, who was a witness to the police violence, filed an affidavit stating that police started an unprovoked lathi charge. Over a 100 women and men including Khairnar and Singh were arrested by the Dhindoshi police. The protests thereafter shifted t the Dhindoshi Police Station where, led by Shabana Azmi and P K Das, hundreds of slum dwellers descended demanding the release of those arrested. The police acceded and released Singh, Khairnar and others on bail. Nivara Hakk also filed a writ petition in the Bomaby High Court against the police violence, The petition, admitted on 27 March 1998 prayed for civil damages and guidelines for the police in the face of peaceful protests.
Even adivasis with forest rights were not spared and land belonging to them for generations was seized. In one instance, a demolition drive in the park was blocked by huge boulders, and angry residents armed with bamboos had stationed themselves on the hilltops. When the posse of policemen and forest officials approached the bastis, they were greeted with a hail of stones forcing them to beat a hasty retreat.
Again on 11 November, 1997, police resorted to lathi charge at Appapada, Malad East as 2,000 peaceful protestors. Police began firing in the air, and used tear gas shells. More than 1000 hutments were demolished in a single day. Casualties among the protestors were also mounting. Hafiz Sheikh, age 65, died of heart attack at Matangarh on 14 November 1997 after watching his hut being run over by a bulldozer; Rekha Dalvi went into premature labour and delivered still-born twins when her hut was demolished on 8 November. The Bombay High Court, alerted to the misery and heavy handed demolitions, stayed demolitions temporarily and directed government to provide rehabilitation first.
Some environmental groups watched with horror, the carnage being executed in the name of saving forests. While the BEAG took a hardline approach, Bittu Sahgal's Sanctuary Magazine in October 1997 wrote to Ganesh Naik, the state minister for Environment and Forests, stating demolitions will prove counter-productive because they were not preceded by any steps towards rehabilitation.
GOVERNMENT EXPLORES REHAB AT KALYAN
Around December of 1997, the government and forest department, under pressure from the Bombay High Court, said it had located tracts of land for rehabilitation around Shirdon and Khoni villages, in Kalyan division, around 60 kilometers north of the National Park. The Forest Department also put forward a formula whereby those claiming alternative accommodation at rehab sites, would have to pay Rs 7,000 to partly defray the costs. This formula was accepted by the Bombay High Court.
Preparing the first batch of 1,000 slum families for relocation, deputy conservator A R Bharti began clearing the Gautam Nagar slums, in Kandivili division, on 6 December 1997. The government and police force met stiff resistance and nearly 100 were injured and 50 taken into custody. Simultaneously from 10 December onwards 4,000 ration cards in the Malad division were cancelled. Nivara Hakk strongly protested against these draconian measures and wrote to the government that the basic right of the poor for subsidized rations cannot be trampled upon.
Meanwhile, the government attempt at relocation of slum families ran into rough weather. There was resistance from the slums as the location of the rehab sites of Khoni and Shirdon – in Kalyan Division – was amidst undeveloped rural villages, and 60 kms from their original source of livelihood. On the other hand, the local people also decided to oppose the entry of newcomers on government land they used as grazing grounds for their cattle. A few dozen families were shifted to locations in Badlapur and Ambarnath, but the main relocation project at Khoni and Shirdon had to be given up.
Meanwhile, as a reminder of the pathetic conditions of the National Park slums was illustrated when 7 persons were crushed to death in a wall collapse during the monsoon on 11 September 1998. Nearly 3,000 huts were located at the foot of the wall.
By January 2000, it was clear the government rehab policy of relocating slum dwellers was not working. Only 450 families had paid the contribution of Rs.7,000, while 38,500 had opposed it. Proposals to locate alternative pitches on the periphery of the park were rejected by the BEAG and the courts. At the same time, the Bombay High Court fixed 22 March as the final deadline for evicting those who had not paid the contribution of Rs 7,000.
The public outcry against this eviction policy became stronger. A Nivara Hakk delegation led by Shabana Azmi met Chief Minsiter Vilasrao Deshmukh on 17th April, 2000. Former Prime Minister V.P.Singh addressed a Press Conferenc on 12 June 2000, throwing in his lot slum dwellers. This provided a huge boost to the movement. The CM responded with sops. He said the state government would introduce legislation in monsoon session to protect slums and promised early rehab to national park outsees. He also conceded the demand for setting up of a rehab committee to exclusively look into the resettlement of park slums and to consider proposals of transit rehab on NDZ & ULC plots.
Meanwhile, the battle continued in the Bombay High Court, which accepted on 14 June the plea of a spate of petitions to extend the cut-off date to pay the 'rehab fee'. However, the court displayed its mindset, when on 19 June during a hearing the Chief Justice, responding to the inability of the government to provide a viable location and land for rehabilitation, said: "Send them to the Buckingham Palace".
The slum families saw the order of the court directing them to pay the 'rehab fee' as an opportunity of survival. There was a rush to pay the money in by the cut-off date, and over 10,000 people used the window provided by the court as an indirect stay and an escape route from the bulldozers.
This did not seriously stem the demolition drive and, despite court orders to the contrary, evictions and demolitions continued through the monsoon of 2000. The brutality was unimaginable. Two persons died from injuries sustained through lathi blows while Asha Sunil Pandey died of a stroke during these operations in Bhim Nagar, Kandivali on 22 and 23 July.
To check the brazen state violence against the poor, civil rights activists set up a Tribunal of the Indian Human Rights Commission (IHRC) of three retired judges and headed by Justice Rajinder Sachar, former chief justice of the Delhi High Court. The terms of reference included probing the human cost and constitutional dimensions of the demolitions, the circumstance and conditions under which the court had ordered demolitions, and to inquire whether the courts had ensured the housing rights of the evictees were protected. The IHRC was mandated to hold public hearings, record evidence and give their findings on the mass evictions and bulldozing of homes of lakhs of people.
The Tribunal held sittings in Kurar village, in Malad, and in Bhim Nagar, in Kandivili. Among the highlights of the depositions was one where V.P.Singh personally came to give evidence based on what he had seen and heard in his rounds in the national park. Evicted residents provided proof of how Forest conservator A R Bharti, while unleashing a reign of terror on their juggis, was protecting scores of Godmen, babas and ashrams that had occupied huge tracts of land in the forest. In another instance, when the Commission was holding a hearing in the Budh Mandir at Bhim Nagar slums, in Kandivili, a large posse of police and demolition workers arrived with Porclain cranes and JCBs and carried out demolitions under the very noses of the judges. The first hand experience of the misery of eviction shook them up. It was captured poignantly in a photograph published in many main line newspapers of Justice Rajinder Sachar offering a bottle of water to a grieving lady sitting amidst the ruins of her home.
The Tribunal by August 2000 released its findings coming down heavily on the forest department and government for the barbaric demolitions. The inquiry also brought out evidence of forest squads burning the personal belongings of the residents to ensure that they dare not return to the site. In a letter to Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh on 7 August, V P Singh demanded action against Deputy Conservator of Forest, A.R. Bharati, for evicting eligible slum dwellers despite a stay order for the monsoon, and for burning peoples' personal belongings. The pressure worked and the Bombay High Court extended the 'rehab fee' payment deadline yet again on 12 August.
A milestone in the struggle for dignity, which perhaps forced a settlement from the government, was the 16 December 2000 Long March to Shivaji Park led by former PM VP Singh and Shabana Azmi. At the rally it was pointed out that though Rs 10 crore had been collected in rehab fees from the national park residents, no alternative had yet been provided. The rally of one lakh people was supported by over 20 slum and housing rights organizations including the Committee for Right to Housing, YUVA, Sharnik Mukti Andolan, Slum Rehabilitation Committee, Footpath Vasi Mahila Samiti, and the Medha Patkar-led National Alliance for People's movement.
The demands included stopping indiscriminate demolition and forced eviction of slum and pavement dwellers in the city; to enact a slum and pavement dwellers protection and rehabilitation act; to review and amend the land use plan of Mumbai in order to make it relevant to the housing need of the poor and the working class; to provide rehabilitation to the national park slum dwellers and to stop builders and developers from grabbing slum lands under the guise of the Slum Redevelopment (SRD) scheme.
The impact was immediate and the chief minister promised a fresh slum protection law in next session of legislature. Sharad Pawar, NCP leader whose party was part of the government, also promised to take lead in finding a solution for the National Park imbroglio. Some solution was finally in sight.
THE CHANDIVILI ALTERNATIVE
Towards the end of 1999, Nivara Hakk began exploring alternative rehabilitation for the National Park slums outside the Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SNGP) boundaries. We realized that the stringent forest laws would make any rehab proposal on forest land impossible. The courts would certainly shoot it down and the even if the state government supported such a move, the Union government Ministry of Forest & Environment (MoEF) would never let it pass.
Meanwhile, independent of the forest imbroglio, a large builder Sumer Corporation, promoted by one Ramesh Shah, held a parcel of land of around 90 acres in the Chandivili area in Powai division. It was partly encroached upon and had in earlier years had been exploited for stone quarries. Ramesh Shah had legal disputes relating to the land in question, and the serious recession facing the real estate business, prevented him from developing a viable realty project. It was in these circumstances Shah approached the then Maharashtra Housing Minister Nawab Malik with a proposal to develop the land for a community of Muslims. Shah targeted Malik as he was also the MLA representing the neighbouring Muslim majority constituency called Kurla that abutted Chandivili to the South.
Malik, who was aware that the National Park rehab was in a bind, told Shah that though he could offer no housing proposal for the Muslim community, the far more pressing issue of the national park slums could be sorted out if he offered his land for a project under the Slum Rehabilitation Authority (SRA). Ramesh Shah was willing to play ball and Nawab Malik invited Nivara Hakk for tripartite talks to see if this proposal could work. Rehab sites are notoriously in far flung places, but Chandivili was well withing the city. It also offered immense scope for employment. Given that it was the least disruptive of all proposals so far, Nivara decided to go along.
By January 2000, Sumer Corporation and Nivara Hakk meet government to formally develop a rehabilitation scheme on the 85-acre property under the SRA. Then CM Vilasrao Deshmukh welcomed the initiative and appointed a committee under the chairmanship of the Housing Secretary V M Lall. After months of delay and several meetings of the committee, V M Lall filed a report that the land in question was appropriate for a SRA scheme, and recommended using it for the rehabilitation of the national park slum dwellers.
Thereafter, things moved quickly after a series of meetings between Nivara Hakk and CM Deshmukh and Sharad Pawar. By March 2002, Vilasrao Deshmukh gave an in-principle okay for the rehab proposal on 3.60 lakh square meters of land, approximately 85 acres. Since as much as 1.20 lakh sq m was part of No-Development Zone (NDZ), the project would be developed in two phases. A series of Nivara press releases in March 2002 announced that the project would involve detailed town-planning, and will include development of low-rise, low density Ground + 4 residential buildings, schools, playgrounds for children, medical centers, market areas and community centers. On 26 August NHSS appointed Sumer Corporation as the 'developer' and on 26 November 2002, the SRA formally gave letter of intent (LoI) to Ramesh Shah granting FSI of 4.8. On 27 June 2003, the final draft development agreement was signed between Nivara Hakk and Sumer Corp, and 4 December 2003, SRA as a planning body approved the construction of 8,403 residential tenements of 300 sq ft built up area, 85 welfare centers, and 31 society offices, and granted a total TDR till that stage of 4,88,740 sq.mts.
While all this was happening, in a meeting with Sharad Pawar, and attended by Shaban Azmi, the state government insisted it would hand over the scheme to Nivara Hakk and not to the builder. Nivara was then free to appoint the builder to develop the project. This is significant, as later on the state government did a turnaround and removed Nivara Hakk as the 'joint Developer', reducing it merely to a 'monitoring NGO'.
The final judgment meanwhile was delivered by the Bombay High Court in the BEAG Public Interest Litigation (PIL) on 15 March 2004. Predictably, over a hundred writ petitions challenging the boundaries of the national park or other illegal excesses of the government and the forest department, which had been joined to the main PIL, were dismissed by the court. In line with the previous order, the final judgment too said the forest land was sacrosanct and ordered the eviction of all commercial establishments off the National Park.
However, despite the eviction orders, many of the old 'protected' slums managed to survive thanks to the cat-and-mouse game played out in the High court. For instance, soon after the final judgment was delivered, the forest department went on a rampage and razed nearly a 1,000 huts in various settlements. Providentially, the national elections were notified and Nivara challenged the demolitions arguing that the forest department had no business changing the demographic composition of Mumbai North constituency during the notified poll period. On 29 March the Bombay High Court stayed the demolitions. Using the breather, Nivara then pointed out to the court that with the government having accepted the Chandivili scheme of rehabilitation, time had to be given to the slum community for the project's completion. The Chandivili SRA scheme thus acted like a restraining order and the Bombay High Court thereafter extended the stay order from time to time.
Simultaneously, Nivara was forced to open a second front with the builder Ramesh Shah, whose behavior was little better than a goon. As joint developers of the project, Nivara insisted on proper town planning norms designed by architect and Nivara treasurer P K Das. These included low-density buildings of Ground + 4 stories, central playground, provision for market, etc. The underlying philosophy, Nivara Hakk argued, was that a rehabilitation project for over a lakh of people required not just a mass of buildings, but the creation of a township that provided for the civic and social needs of the community. If this was not done, the project would become another 'multi-story slum'.
Expectedly, the builder was not listening and insisted on maximizing his profits. Sumer Corporation also deliberately slowed down work in the recessionary period when TDR released from the project was commanding low returns. Nivara by July 2005 therefore intervened to block release of TDR and sought to link it to the speed of construction. Ramesh Shah retaliated and redrew the plans to Ground + 7 stories, increased density and crowding, got rid of the playgrounds and markets on the drawing board; and when Nivara protested, 'convinced' the then chief minister Vilasrao Deshmukh to strike off Nivara from 'developer' status, and reduce it a mere monitoring NGO. Things reached to a low point when the builder, revealing his true, violent face, demolished the Nivara Hakk project office in Chandivili on 17 January 2006.
Notwithstanding all these threats and bullying of the builder, the inordinate delays in completion and the lack of government interest in seeing the project through, the Chandivili project or Sangharsh Nagar as it was known by then, was ready for allotment by 2007. The first set of 15 keys was given out by Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh on Labour and Maharashtra Day on 1 May 2007.
NEW STRUGGLES AT SANGHARSH NAGAR
The first round of distribution till October 2007, provided homes to nearly 3,000 families housed in 48 buildings distributed over 5 clusters. Since then, 7 rounds of distribution have been completed providing homes to nearly 11,000 families or the equivalent of 55,000 people.
But with the development of the new township came a galaxy of new and old issues. Sumer Corporation, cutting corners, had built sub-standard, leaky buildings that would be costly for the residents in the long run. Design faults in storm water drains led to flooding in monsoons. Oblivious to the existing residents, the builder continued to use stone crushers that spewed dangerous dust into the atmosphere damaging people's eyes and lungs. All these became issues of struggles. Nivara led a march to stop the crushers and succeeded.
Other big issues remained unresolved. For instance, land reserved for playgrounds was compromised by the builder; markets were never provided. To draw attention to these problems, Nivara Hakk invited Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan on 26 May 2011 to review the progress. Shocked at the brazen and illegal change in sanctioned plan, he ordered an inquiry into the disappearing open spaces and absence of markets. SRA Chief Officer Zhende carried out a nominal hearing and nothing was heard of the inquiry thereafter.
Despite the SRA-builder nexus, Nivara continued to intervene effectively on various planning norms. For instance, Nivara suggested that instead of each building being allotted a Balwadi as per SRA norms, a more lasting contribution to the community would be to aggregate all the FSI available for Balwadis to create 2 large school premises and a set of community halls. This has resulted in the construction of one large school, which has been given over to the BMC to run, and the community halls allotted to the Federation of resident societies. A second school is yet to come up.
In another threat faced by the residents, Guardian Congress Minister Naseem Khan wanted to take over the school through his own private trust. However, a vocal movement led by Nivara Hakk emphasizing that the assets of the school belonged to the local residents exposed his greedy plans. Ultimately the school kicked off under a BMC management from June 2011, and today has a roll call of 3,000 students from Sangarsh Nagar. The set of 4 community halls were similarly eyed by local politicians including Naseem Khan and MNS corporator Eknath Tayde; but constant lobbying and timely agitation ensured that the Sangharsh Nagar Federation of Cooperative Societies got first right of control. The BMC similarly was lobbied to set up a Primary Health Centre which has contributed to controlling contagious spread of malaria and other diseases.
Nivara also challenged the density norms in slum rehabilitation developed by the SRA-builder nexus. For instance, in the second phase, the SRA sanctioned the development of 22-story buildings for Sangharsh Nagar, and in other projects buildings for slum rehab were allowed upto 30 floors. Besides creating high density, these planning norms would lead to huge maintenance costs for the poor residents. The Chief Minister accepted the Nivara rationale and vetoed the Phase II National Park rehab plan by insisting slum rehab buildings should not exceed 10 stories. However, these norms were later compromised and Sangharsh Nagar's 2nd phase was allowed to go ahead with 14-story buildings.
Sangharsh Nagar is today at the crossroads. Its residents have rallied remarkably well to set up a cooperative movement, and nearly 150 buildings have so far banded together to form a Federation of Societies – the Mahasangh – to improve the civic and social life of the colony. Much of the day-to-day functions that Nivara Hakk used to administer have now been handed over to the Mahasangh.
On the other hand, a slew of problems remain. The lack of markets has created serious encroachments of vendors choking common spaces and roads. The second phase of rehabilitation, under the joint venture of DB Realty and Sumer Corp, remains a distant dream. But going by its past history and name, Sangharsh Nagar will continue to fight, grow and prosper.
7th April 1995: Bombay Environment Action Group V/s Shri A.K. Bharati & others
Original petition dated 8th Feb 1995. Submitted that there is wide encroachment in National Park and forest area destroyed because of inaction.
30th May, 1995: Letter to MIDC Police station, Andheri East, Shri Bipin Bihari, regarding repeated assaults, extortion and sale of forest land by Gangs operating on slums bordering Sanjay Gandhi National Park, Kurar village, falling under Dindoshi Police station.
Goondas were operating in Ambedkar Nagar, Azad Nagar- Rajiv Nagar, Matangargh along Sanjay Gandhi National Park off Kurat Village. 50,000 slum dwellers resided in this belt. Goondas sold forest land at will, fought among themselves for control, extorted money at the point of swords and choppers from the hapless residents.
Gang was led by Bansi Rajbhor, Gameel, Balchand, etc had kidnapped 4 volunteers, assaulted locals, extorted money from locals, sold forest land illegally etc., yet no firm action was taken. Police station treated the problem casually.
4th July 1995 : Slums and crime spread within national park (Times of India).
Armed extortionist forced innocent poor to buy land in forest area. Made false affidavit. Police, civic officials, forest guards, local slumlords asked for protection money promising to provide civic amenities. Innocent Yadav's slums taken over by Bahadur Jameel gang which sold them at Rs.7000/- each to outsiders. 50 such cases reported. Encroachments spread at the rate of 2 hectares per month is the 103 sq.km national park. The park had 80,000 families, occupying 1000 hectares. Police turned a blind eye.
8th August: (Navbharat Times) Demolition of Bhim Nagar, a colony at National Park
19th October, 1995: Press Release
Morcha of slum dwellers residing on National Park land, gatecrash into Dy.Conservator's office.
2000 slumdwellers, including 400 women with their babies stormed into the compound of the Deputy Conservator of Forests office at Borivali to demand recognition and protection to slums included in Jan 1995 voters list, situated on lands belonging to forest department as its policy statement to provide free houses to Bombay's slum dwellers has recognized all slumdwellers who figure in the voters list of Jan 1995 as beneficiaries of the schemes.
The forest guards along with Police however continued to harass and demolish hutments. Nivara Hakk also demanded that minimum civic facilities like potable water and toilets be allowed to the slumdwellers to allow to live in dignity. BMC denied because of objections by forest officials.
Forest department agreed to look into the matter. 2 Nivara leaders were arrested after the morcha disposed for breach of prohibitory orders.
5 lakhs slum dwellers live in Bastis stretching from film city to Goregoan to Borivali who live on National Park land. Of these forest officials have provided recognition only to 720 families who were enumerated in 1978. For the remaining it is a life a misery crushed under the wright of extortion of slum lords and corrupt officials. 24 deaths due to gastroenteritis since last two years. Nivara said if further encroachment needs to be stopped, severe action on anti-social elements and slum lords needs to be taken. Also a demand for clear policy on forest land demanded from the state.
29th Jan 1996 – Press Release – Representatives of slums on SGNP decided protest action
4th April 1996: Press conference invitation, to be held on 5th April- Morcha will be held on 8th April to Mantralaya to project the demands of nearly 1 lakh slum families. They may boycott local elections if the government does not stop its eviction policy. Government back on its promise of giving recognition to slums in a slum related matter in Bombay High court.
6th April, 1996: The Metropolis- Unrepresented slums to boycott polls. These slums have not been included in SRS scheme as national park land falls under central government. The recent affidavit states the scheme would be applicable to those hutments in slums which have been in existence in the year 1985, the further criteria being a person who claims protection also ought to be in the voters list of Jan 1, 1996 or prior there to and should have continued to stay in the same structure. This affidavit will affect 30 lakhs slum dwellers whose huts were constructed after 1985. This provide it to be a pre-election promise only to gain votes. If the government is honest to eradicate slums, it should not put any cut-off date as eligibility criteria.
9th April 1996 : Times of India – 'Park encroachers to be included in slum scheme'.
After a meeting with slum dwellers representatives on Monday chief sec. Dinesh Afzulpurkar said "irrespective of whether these people are living on central or state government land they will be covered by the same provided they have been living in the area before Jan 1, 1995 and their names appear on the electrol rolls. Government would correct affidavit.
18th May 1996: Letter to D.K. Afzalpurkar committee from Nivara stating his position of including SGNP slums has been communicated and appreciated. It should form a special cell to propose a formula for the rehab of SGNP slum dwellers and hence meet at the earliest.
16th June 1996: NIVARA HAKK condemns demolition drive by BMC, 30,000 hutments demolished, two lakh people homeless before the monsoon.
3rd December 1996 – Press release
Important intervention by Mumbai High court or rehab of slum dwellers occupying Sanjay Gandhi National Park lands. The Municipal Council has stayed the demolition of some slums on forest land and urged the government to work out a rehab scheme for them.
Counsel for forest dept and BEAG pleaded for severe action for the removal of the hutment, 'encroachments' like that ordered by the Supreme court to clear up the ridge forests around Delhi, counsel for the petitioners here argued that in case of Mumbai there existed slum sehab schemes protecting slum dwellers which cannot be ignored.
7th December 1996: HC stay on demolition leaves BNP open for encroachers.
50 slumlords have been identified and again is being initiated. Each slumlord has sold more than 1500 dwellings at prices ranging from Rs.3000 to Rs.10,000. They have even used court fee stamp paper to carry out the illegal transactions. Most common modus operandi is to build temples, mosques in buffer zones, constructing schools, erecting juggis made of corrugated sheets and other materials often sold cheaply where communities can evolve and expand. Upto 1995 total encroachment was 772.82 hectares of forest land.
7th April 1997: Bombay Natural History Society invites NHSS for a workshop on Sanjay Gandhi National Park. The discussions relate to problems facing the park and the water bodies within it looking for long-term solution for the conservation of the park.
12th February 1997: Conservator asked to prepare map showing road and not grant any permission for non-forest activities.
23rd May : Pimpripada slums on forest land demolished (700 huts) despite court order, 200 slums demolished in 30 min. set on fire also, fire engines had no water.
21st June: Minutes of Nivara Hakk annual meeting
National Park: High court order on May 7th, rehab ordered within 18 months. Identification of families is a problem as forest officials are corrupt. A notice to be given to forest department to give schedule of surveys so that Nivara Hakk activists can remain present. Despite court order Pimpripada slum dweller were affected.
8th July 1997: Letter to Dhindoshi police – Request action on group of unscrupulous elements in pimpripada slums led by K Prajapati and K Ghobhare on cheating people in name of slum redevelopment scheme.Some people were acting as builders and were collecting money from the residents promising them rehabilitation in buildings.
May 20, 1997- 700 residents lost their worldly belongings and forest officials denied anything to do with the demolitions. After demolition, some elements using the fear and tension of the people are telling them that they have brought a builder who will rehabilitate them in the very same plot provided they sign an agreement and pay Rs.200 per room. Nobody can obviously be rehabilited at the same plot. No housing society has been formed nor any general body held authorizing these persons to collect the said money. Also government doesn’t allow for private collection of money in this manner.
However lakhs of rupees were collected from 400 families and they were continuing to pressurize and force people to sign agreements. No builder or proposal mentioned in the agreement. Nivara volunteers had warned them several times not to cheat the people in this manner. Request to take severe action and investigate the same as these innocent people have lost everything in the demolition of May 20th.
13 August 1997: Slum Rehab work to begin in December (The Economic Times)
Construction of one lakh tenements to accommodate five lakh slum dwellers under the free housing scheme would begin in December, said housing minister Mr.Suresh Jain. Out of 40 lakh slum dwellers, 5 lakh had given consent to rehab proposals so far.
August 4, 2000- Express Newsline – The Indian people’s Human Right Commission (IPHRC) will be holding a 2 day public hearing on the demolitions in SGNP under the aegis of an unofficial judicial inquiry tribunal. The terms of reference of the tribunal set up will include human, constitutional and juries prudential dimensions of the demolitions, the circumstance and conditions under which the court have ordered the demolitions, the responsibility of the courts to ensure that the housing rights of the evictees are protected.
Around 60,000 slum dwellers were evicted in Bhim nagar by forest officials in a petition filed by BEAG. Goernment itself stated that around 33,000 slum dwellers in the area were eligible for rehab, the high court directed that those desirous of an alternative accommodation would have to pay Rs.7,000/- towards it of these, despite several deadlines given, only 5000 have paid till now. Rehab measurers are being undertaken at Ambarnath and Kalyan for these slum dwellers.
Adivasis have complained land belonging to them from generations have been taken away from them. Middle class was criticized for believing removal of slums was critical to a clean environment.
9th October, 1997 – Press Release
Bombay High Court stays further demolitions in slums in Babrekar nagar, Kandivali, NIVARA HAKK to file contempt petition against demolitions in National Park. The Bombay High Court restrained the state government and Municipal authorities from demolishing the hutments of the residents of New Khanodinagar who possessed proof of residence prior to Jan 1, 1995. Court said alternate housing should be provided first.
Six residents societies along with NIVARA HAKK have filed a writ petition against repeated demolitions of their hutments by the collectorate and the failure of the state government to provide alt accommodation as per its declared policy. It was demolished in mid July after the onset of the monsoons. The plea were ignored, they were thrown shelterless on the pavement and roads. Human rights violated.
When the police came day after to continue evictions. Their path was blocked by huge coulters and by angry residents armed with bamboos who had stationed themselves on the hilltops. The authorities as they approached the bastes were greeted with a hail of stones forcing them to beat a hasty retreat. The incident pretends that the government will have to face the wrath of the people if it continues its in human demolition drive.
8th October – Maharukh Adenwalla, advocate writes to the collector, ward officer, police inspector making sure no demolition takes place of new Kharodi nagar slums.
9th October, 1997 – Sanctuary rites to Mr.Ganesh Naik of Government of Maharashtra, Minister Environment & Forest, stating demolitions will prove counter-productive because they were not preceded by any steps towards rehabilitation.
12th October, 1997- NIVARA HAKK calls meeting of slum dwellers to discuss SRA policy
19th October 1997 - Minutes of General Body Meeting NIVARA HAKK 250 activists participated chawls and slum committees were present. Play presented on slum demolitions by government
1. How to tackle demolition drive
2. Study SRA policy
3. Voting for committee
P.K. Das said: Govt made false promise of providing a house. Now they don’t have right to take away house built by hard work of slum dwellers. Call for morcha in November of 1 lakh people to Mantralaya. Goons with politicians forcibly taking away houses from slum dwellers to earn profits. Government helping goons.
Marukh explained legalities of SRA, also explained human rights laws and stressed the need for a morcha. Slum dwellers spoke about builders working in their areas, the exploitation and land grab.
25th October 1997 – Letter from Maharukh Adenwalla to senior police inspector, Dindoshi police station. Re: Notice under section 149 of criminal procedure court. Indiscriminate demolitions were carried on 7th Oct 1997 at Mattongad inspite of court order. Your order against activists – they have not committed any crime, only ensuring no one is deprived of his right. Notice uncalled for.
Nov 13 – March to Mantralaya – Resist slum demolition
Nov 12th – request for appointment at 3 p.m. for 13th Nov 1997 informing about rally.
Nov 11 – Police resorted to lathi charge at Appapada, Malad East as 2000 peaceful protestors were opposing the on-going demolitions against the basti in SGNP. Police began firing in air, used tear gas shells. More than 1000 hutments were demolished by the forest dept.
Nov. 9 – 30,000 people held a mass protest , Kandivali East
Nov 10-11 – huge rallies at Colaba, Babrekar Nagar of slum dwellers.
Nov 6 – 10000 people assembled on film city road, Goregaon east to register protest against police violence at Matangaih
18th Nov 1997 – High court stays demolition drive on slum dwellers in National Park. Ensure rehabilitation first Hafiz Sheikh, age 65 died of heart attack at Matangarh on Nov 14 after watching his hut being run over by a bulldozer, Rekha Dalvi went into premature labour and delivered still born twins when her hut was demolished on Nov 8.
Deputy CM Gopinath Munde promised meeting within a week with CM Manohar Joshi to resolve the matter.
15th Nov 1997- Hamara Mahanagar- ‘Am Shabana Ko Role Badal Gaya’
Seen at buying of Jet airplanes along with CM & Deputy CM, against who she agaited a day before.
10th Nov 1997 – Rate of migration decreased sharply –Times of India
10.11.1997 – Khairnar writes to ‘Afternoon Dispatch’. Stating their news is incorrect and he is with Shabana and company in the slum rehab struggle.
14th Nov 1997- Loksatta – News article about Morcha
20th Nov 1997 – Letter to Collector, Monitoring committee by NIVARA HAKK. Letter about absolute violation of High court order during the demolitions. Survey conducted in improper manner. Surveyors asking money for inclusion of name in the survey. In Mattangath 600 structures included in the electoral roll of 1995 have been demolished without giving alternate site. Meeting requested.
4th Nov – Press conference to announce action programme against State government policy of slum demolition to be addressed by Shabana, Khainar, others. 4 lakh slum dwellers facing eviction.
17.11.1997 – Writ petition filed by NIVARA HAKK against conservator of forest against illegal demolitions in Sanjay Gandhi National Park.
6th December 1997 – First batch of 1000 slum dwellers to be relocated outside National Park in one week, says forest conservator. They will be relocated outside the park. But on Friday noon at Gautam Nagar slums, situated in Kandivali division of National park, demolitions were carried out, 100 injured, 50 taken into custody. Also government estimated 70 acres of land for rehab, but Nivara estimated 200 acres as SGNP has 40,000 eligible slum dwellers.
10th Dec 1997- Cancellation of Ration cards of slum dwellers residing in SGNP basis.
4000 cards cancelled in Malad division creating problems for the poor. High court order does not allow cancellation of ration cards. The right to subsidised rations for the poor must be protected and goes beyond the issue of encroachment and relocation.
Dec 6, 1997- HC stays on demolitions leaves Borivali National Park open for encroachers.
50 slum lords identified. Each has sold more than 1500 dwellings at price ranging from Rs.3000 to Rs.10,000.
More than 7 Organizations condemn the antipeople stand of BEAG.
BEAG instrument in forcibly evicting over 60,000 families (3 lakh people) from SGNP. These families have no viable alternative. Most people residing in SGNP before it was notified as such. Due to BEAG 20,000 families have lost homes already without alternate accommodation.
Court ordered relocation to Kalyan but locals not accepting. They want in periphery as livelihoods are here. But BEAG opposes. Demarcating a small portion of SGNP will not devastate the environment. BEAG action violated human rights and has acted to the detriment of poor people. We strongly condemn this .
13th Jan 1998 – Letter to Mr.Vinay Bansal, Secretary Forests, Mantralaya, Mumbai from Bittu Sehgal, Maharashtra Wild life Board.
Call for meeting to discuss.
27th March 1998- High court admits petition claiming civil damages and guidelines for police in lathi charge incident against Gurbir Singh and others.
On 6th Nov 1998, forest dept was carrying out large scale demolitions in Malad slums on border of SGNP. Gurbir along with suspended Dy.Municipal commissioner GR Khairnar left the demolition site after they received calls from various slum groups alleging that the police and other authorities were even demolishing those protected huts whose names were in 1995 electrol list.
At demolition site of Matangad, police provoked lathi charge on peaceful protestors. When Gurbir objected he was surrounded and hammered with lathi blows on the head and shoulders by more than 20 constables. It left his left elbow fractured. The police claimed ‘secret manual’ allowed them for such actions. But high court said the police should provide the documents to petitioner if they are claiming it in defense.
Another journalist of Asian Age, who was a witness filed an affidavit stating that police started lathi charge. In separate affidavits filed in their defense, the two police officers have tried to blur the issues by arguing that Gurbir Singh was not a law abiding citizen and citied that he tried collecting hafta from one Sudhir Birje. Birje was a slum lord who had been booked in an MRTP offence by municipality for setting up illegal factory. Birje was arrested after petition by Gurbir in that matter. The matter will come up for a final hearing soon.
Bombay Times- 7th Sept. Shabana & Slums- ‘Seven Slums to benefit from Shabana's fund’.
Rajya Sabha MP Will provide basic services to 7 slums utilize 1 crore from MP fund and also contribute towards restoring the denuded western waistline. Geeta Nagar slum dwellers were joyous but residents of the posh neighbourhood did not appreciate this. They called it a political stunt. Shabana said slums are being encouraged by our politicians at the cost of tax payers. Basic services should be given to them on grounds of humanity.
26th July 1999 – Eviction of slum dwellers from SGNP. Letter to Chief Secretary, Maharashtra from Nivara. Slum dwellers evicted in improper manner. They are to be relocated outside Mumbai i.e., Kayan & Ambernath, it will be inconvenient to commute to their place of work and many will lose their livelihood.Secondly each eligible slum dweller is required to pay Rs.7000 for allotment of an alternative pitch of 10' x 15'. The policy of the State government is to give free pitches to those eligible slum dwellers who structures are situated on land required for public purpose. The slum dwellers are any way constructing their own houses. It is not correct to consider them eligible merely because they cannot pay the sum of Rs.7000/-. We therefore demand they be located along the periphery or alternative sites within limits of Mumbai. No amount should be collected for alternative pitches. NIVARA HAKK be involved in preparation and execution. No demolition of eligible structures should take place till alternative site is identified and infrastructure provided and they are relocated.
22nd Nov 1999 – Letter to Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh . Urgent meeting to discuss SRA policy review by state government as we have certain proposals to offer on this issue. Urgent suggestions also needed in BSGNP case, 30000 railway slums, Mhada's Oshwara land of 50 acres reserved for dishoused is sought to be given to a developer group called Oshiwara land development corporation by previous government.
7th March 2000 – Letter to Minar Pimple regarding 33,000 recognized huts. No rehab plan in place. Only 450 families have paid contribution of Rs.7000. 38,500 have opposed it. BEAG, court not accepting NIVARA HAKK alternate proposal for rehabs in periphery NIVARA HAKK believes in making people actively involved in protecting forest as slumlords are trading forest land. The fringes are depleted forest and quarried illegally by organized contractors. This land can be used for rehabs. We request for a meeting along with various organizations and unions on 9th March.
14th March 2000 – Loksatta- 22nd as deadline for SGNP slum dwellers to pay money. If money not paid then they will forcefully be evicted after 22nd March. Extra police force deployed for eviction
7th April 2000 – Editor, Outlook, Delhi- Reference to your publication 10th April 2000 ‘Green Peace Shattered’ by Sujata Anandan. Comments against BEAG, so called environmentalist as they are elitist and do not under the plight of poor.
17th April, 2000 – NIVARA HAKK delegation led by Shabana meets Chief Minister to resolve problem of eviction of 50,000 families on Borivali National Park.
Met CM Vilasrao Deshmukh. Told Kalyan, Ambernath rejected by slum dwellers as it is rural and no source of livelihood. Most practical alternative would be to relocate the eligible slum dwellers on borders of national park itself. Those who had paid money were mostly going to be shifted to Malvani in Malad zone. NIVARA HAKK suggested ULC land currently vested with builders and developed could be acquired to rehabilitate people. Also voiced concern about the stand taken by some environmental groups in the city which amounted to ignoring the interest of the poor.
21st April 2000 – Shabana to address Press Conference on the ongoing attacks on slum dwellers in the city. To announce mass rally of National Park slum dwellers on Sunday, with ex PM V.P. Singh to address and discuss Mumbai’s slums
25th April 2000 – No ‘Parking’ – NIVARA HAKK proposes scheme for rehab of slum dwellers. Afternoon dispatch. Focus on land tenure.
26th April 2000 – VP Singh supports anti demolition movement (Marathi newspaper)
12th June 2000 – Press conference by Shri V.P.Singh on Tuesday June 13 following meeting with the CM on the current spate of slum demolitions. Urgent meeting with chief minister Vilasrao Deshmukh on June 13th to find a solution to massive demolition of slums. Slum dwellers representatives, eminent citizens like Madhu Daundaate, Justice H Swesh, Justice M Daud, filmmakers Anand Patwardhan and Sagar Sarhadi , NIVARA HAKK, CPDR, Ahilya Rangnekar of CPM, Prakash Reddy of CPI, Prakash Ambedkar, Ramdas Athavale of republican party.
Urge to halt demolitions, provide immediate alternate relief, legislation to protect slum dwellers and a rehab policy for those who are uprooted during the implementation of public projects.
18th June 2000 – State government to introduce legislation for protecting slums in monsoon session, CM promises early rehab to national park outsees. The CM conceded the demand for setting up of a rehab committee to exclusively look into the resettlement of park outsees. Considered proposal of transit rehab on NDZ & ULC plots. CM said demolitions were not at the instance of the government but on account of court orders. CM also said state would be surveying all slums and issuing photopasses to those residing before 1995 before July 15th.
On National Park he agreed to order the survey and demarcation of the boundaries of the national park so that communities falling outside the boundaries were not disturbed, re-examine claims of those whose names have not been included in forest depts. Eligibility list and drop criminal cases over 400 persons charged by the police for resisting the demolition action.
CM agreed to order an inquiry against A.K Bharti, deputy forest conservator if sufficient prima facie evidence was brought before him. He was accused of favouring builders, baba ashrams, gangs who were beating people and trying to evict them from forest areas. On June 14th Bombay High court bench allowed additional two weeks time for park oustees to pay the rehab fees of Rs.5000 as NIVARA HAKK and 25 others petitioned for more time.
VP Singh visited park oustees, urged them to wage a united struggle for the right to housing.
19th June 2000- “Send them to Buckingham Palace”.
Recently appointed chief justice of Mumbai high court told CM to send slum dwellers to queens abode.26th July 2000 – Meeting at NIVARA HAKK on 23rd July 2000 for SGNP (inquiry by retired judges on SGNP)
6th July 2000- Indian Express Newsline
Forest Dept violates stay till monsoon and bulldozers roll on HC order falls
400 structures raized in last two days, blatant violation of MUNICIPAL COUNCIL orders. There was a stay on the demolition of these structures till the end of monsoon i.e. till September 30th. Forest dept. claims only those structured demolished that were rebuilt after initial demolition but residents claim the structures were demolished for the first time. Only 4000 people could pay the rehab fee of Rs.7000 as forest officials started collecting money only on June 21st and stopped on June 28th .P.K. Das said they plan to file special appeal before the court citing two aspects , first for violating the court order and second for failing to observe the time limit for payment.
Demolitions carried when it was raining heavily. Till date 10,000 people have paid up for alternative accommodation, 23,000 still remain. Several people were denied and had been turned back from paying as forest claimed they did not have official documents to prove their eligibility.
27th July 2000 – Two persons die during demolition and police operations at Bhim Nagar, Kandivali on July 22 & 23, 2000.
Injuries sustained through lathi blows and physical beating by police on July 23rd. Another Asha Sunil Pandey died of a stroke on July 22 during demolitions. She had three small children. Bhimnagar is a large basti of over 5000 households claimed by forest department to be on the land of SGNP.
1st August 2000 – Invitation for Press Conference on 4th August. Indian people’s Human Rights Commission has set up an unofficial judicial tribunal consisting of justice sachar, Justice Suresh, Justice David. It will enquire into the demolitions of about 50,000 houses in Sanjay GSGNP involving large scale human displacement.
1st August – City rehab plan invites rural wrath The Economic Times, 2nd Aug 2000.
The Maharashtra Government decided to relocate 12,000 slum families from SGNP at Borivali in 122 hectares of land covering several rural pockets. The 120 crore project promises 150 sq ft. sites and basic infra but is threaten by various snarls, including opposition by villagers.
The rehab sites cover 5 villages – while approv. 71 hectares will be occupied by residential clusters, 12 is for open spaces, 14 for public amenities. Two sites at Ambarbnath and Badlapur are almost ready, 700 families from western suburb of Malad are expected to be shifted shortly. Slum dwellers are resisting these sites mainly because of the inaccessibility as they are 11 -15 km from closest rail heads Dombivali & Kalyan. The sites have miles of green paddy fields, no sign of land plotting , electricity and other civic infrastructure. The local agri community is opposing too as they would pollute irrigation water and they don’t want alien culture flooding in their area. They have formed a Sangharsh Samiti to resist it. The CM had earlier promised to change the rehab sites to move accessible areas but no land had been demarcated as yet. Meanwhile the demolitions continued.
3rd Aug 2000 – Navbharat Times- 2 people die in Bhim nagar demolitions
4th Aug – Public hearing on National Park demolition
The Indian people’s Human Rights commission will be holding a two day public hearing on the demolitions in SGSGNP under the aegis of an unofficial judicial inquiry tribunal. It had been set up following large scale violations of human rights.
5th Aug – Navbharat Times
Committee set up for investigating SGNP demolitions by IPHRC.
6th Aug – Asian Age
Tribunal to probe park dwellers eviction.
6th August – ‘Slum dwellers tell Commission of govt omissions’ Express newsline
Livelihood question raised
Not told their land was in forest
Houses on non-forest land also demolished
VP Singh asked for extension of payment deadline and alt land within city
Inhumanity questioned-why goods were burnt after demolitions.
August 7, 2000 - Letter to Vilasrao from V.P.Singh.
Re: request for action against Deputy conservator of Forest, A.R. Bharati
As demolitions were being carried out inhumanly people dying , goods being burnt, court orders of stay till monsoon not being obeyed Mr.Bharti should be suspended and inquiry should be ordered.
Aug 7, 2000 – Chief Minister announces ordinance to protect slums, orders inquiry into burning of belongings.
Ordered administrative inquiry against deputy conservator
All recognized families will be given photo identity cards
NIVARA HAKK remind of the land at Oshiwara for the dishoused for rehab.
7th Aug 2000 – Tribunal begins recording statements of slum dwellers – Times of India
8th Aug – Navbharat Times – Image of demolition
12th August 2000 – High Court extends payment deadline, order against Bharti also (Marathi document)
14th Aug 2000 – Navbharat Times- We have always lived in the jungles – Adivasis
25th Aug 2000- Public hearing at MUNICIPAL COUNCIL office of the collector into the alleged excess committed on slum dwellers while removing encroachments. Requested to bring proof.
21st Aug 2000 – Navbharat Times – Public hearing on 25th Aug
23rd Aug 2000 – Sanjay Gandhi Udyan Ashrams, Temples, Balsas thriving inside SGNP
Rich Babas protected and allowed concretization of their structures. They are not being demolished.
8th Oct 2000 – Nav Bharat Times
400 rendered homeless at Ramsajivan chawl, Kalina, Santacruz (E) on 28th Sept 2000
15th Oct 2000 – Nav Bharat Times
National Park in the middle of the city
20th Oct 2000 – New Bharat Times
People presented their woes in front of the collector
22 Oct 2000 – Nav Bharat Times
Biggest demolition drive after independence
27th Oct 2000 – Nav Bharat Times
100 huts demolished in Daulatnagar, Santacruz (W)
30th Oct 2000 – Report of IPHRC on SGNP released
Heard over 550 witnesses, visited demolition sites
31st Oct 2000 – Mumbai Newsline
‘Encroachers’ rights were crushed news report on IPHRC report
31st Oct 2000 – Times of India
Panel of 3 retd.judges condemns demolition of slums at Borivali park
31st Oct 2000 - The Asian Age
‘Court has erred in its Parle dwellers’ eviction order
1st Nov 2000 – Maharashtra Times
High Court condemned for eviction of 4.5 lakhs people at SGNP
10th Nov 2000 – Letter from Mantralaya to NIVARA HAKK stating that eligible encroachers to be relocated in village Khoni and Shirdhan of Kalyan Taluka and meeting on 14th Nov fixed with chief secretary.
14th Dec 2000 – Permission of long march of slum dwellers on 23rd Dec from Shivaji Park to Girgaon Chowpatty led by former PM VP Singh and Shabana Azmi to draw attention of the government to the various houding rights issue.
17th Dec 2000 – Long march under VP Singh’s leadership by slumdwellers (Sakal)
Jointly organized by NIVARA HAKK, Committee for right to Housing YUVA, Sharnik Mukti Andolan, Slum Rehabilitation Committee, Footpath Vashi Mahil Samiti, National Alliance for people’s movement, Girni Kamgar, Jhopadi Bachao Parishad, Various slum committees, Janata Rahivasi Mandal Chunabhatti, Ketkipada Dharkhadi Rehavasi Sangh.
21st December 2000 – Press Release
VP Singh, Shabana Azmi to lead long march. Stop slum demolitions- shelter is our fundamental right.
22nd Dec – Maharashtra Times
Long march in Number on set for rights of slum dwellers
22nd Dec – Navbharat Times
Long march under VP Singh leadership
23rd Dec 2000 – Press Release
CM promises fresh slum protection law in next session of legislature. Sharad Pawar to take lead in covering meeting with slum dwellers reps. Massive rally demands rehab for national park evictees, halt to demolitions. 10 crore collected from SGNP slum dwellers but no alternate land given. In the name of beautification the state is creating two cities.
23rd Dec 2000 – India a house divided – Indian Express
23rd Dec – Afternoon Despatch & Courier – ‘Save the slums’
24th Dec – Asian Age – Pic of Shabana & VP Singh
24th Dec – VP, Shabana lead slum dwellers – Indian Express
24th Dec – TOI – Slum protection law in offering : VP Singh.
24th Dec – New Bharat – Lets divide Mumbai in rich & poor
24th Dec – Maharashtra Times – Shabana pic
24th Dec – Dainik Yashobhumi
CM promised slum protection law – VP Singh
24th Dec – Navbharat Times – we will fight for our right to housing – VP Singh
25th Dec – TOI – pic of Shabana , VP during rally
25th Dec – Navbharat – Pic of rally & Shabana
27th Dec 2000 – Letter from MP Shabana to CS, Mantralaya and Sec Forest & Environment, Mantralaya
Residents of slums complaining that water connections being disconnected inspite of no new rehab site given. Forest officials forcibly collecting signatures of people to relocate on Kalyan and Dombivali sites
29th Dec 2000 – Blood flows to get water – Navbharat
31st Dec 2000 – Keer Times, Colaba local slum dwellers come on road to fight for their rights – VP Singh
16th Jan 2001 – News coverage (Pics) of meeting with CM at Sayadhri guesthouse concerning rehab of slum dwellers.
27the Jan 2001 – Press Release
Former Prime Minister VP Singh, Shabana Azmi to address joint press conf a proposed legislation protecting slums. On new slum policy and proposed legislation to protect slum dwellers.
30th Jan 2001 – Press conference cancelled due to Gujarat riots
28th June 2001 – BMC commissioner KC Srivastava visits Sanjay Gandhi Nagar (Colaba) Rajiv Gandhi Nagar on 22nd June 2001 to see the problems as well as model development through their own efforts.
14th Jan 2002 – Meeting at Mantralaya regarding SGNP
Meeting was held on 27th Dec 2001 at Mantralaya
27th Feb 2002 – Meeting at Home Minister’s office
15th March 2002 – Meeting again
6th May 2002 – Meeting at CM’s office
Land available in Chandivali, Sumer corporation to make transit camp.
8th May 2002 – Vilasrao backs bid to resettle squatter families in Chandivili
Resettle 20000 squatter families on a pvt plot in Chandivali. Construction firm Sumer Corporation has offered its own plot near Powai measuring 3.60 lakh sq.m but 1.2 lakh sq m comes under no development zone. Proposal will only be implemented after BMC approval
8th May 2002- Navbharat Times
SGNP slumdwellers to be rehabilitated in Chandivali
85 acres land for rehab. Each to get 300 sq.ft. house
3 yrs to construct, housing 20,000 families. Slum dwellers to pay Rs.50,000 per family but will try to bring to Rs.20,000 under Valmiki Ambedkar Awas Yogna.
23rd March 2002 – Rehab of SGNP slum dwellers- Press Release.
Rehabs at Chandivali – slum dwellers will contribute to entire develop involving the construction of school, medical centre, shops, playgrounds, points etc., apart from their housing as a comprehensive township planning scheme.
26th March 2002 –Press release
Rehab – An alternative – G+4, 225 sq.ft. social amenities, planning active participation and financial contribution from slum dwellers. Slum dwellers will give Rs.40,000/- towards the cost of rehab. FSI of 1.65 to 1.75, available is 2.5 proposed tri-partite and not changed earlier views but suggest uniform application of prevailing laws.
27th March 2002 – Meeting at Mantralaya
19th June 2002 – Meeting at Mantralaya to formalize rehab plan
23rd Aug 2002 – Meeting at Mantralaya for approval of the scheme
26th Aug 2002 – NIVARA HAKK appoints Sumer Corporation a developer. Letter to Ramesh Shah of Sumer Group
2nd Sept 2002 – Collector writes to Sumer Corp. that in case of mining on Chandivali land, govt will get royalty.
12th Sept 2002 – Letter to Deputy Secretary , Housing Dept.
Registration documents of NHWC submitted
27th Sept 2002 – A housing alternative at Chandivali circular issued
26th Nov 2002 – SRA writes to all giving letter of intent and granting FSI of 4.8
19th Dec 2002- Sumer and Nivara confirm acceptance of SRA scheme and proposal to Chief of SRA
30th Jan 2003 – Meeting with Ramesh Shah, Nivara , CM on land conversion to SRA and emphasis involving Nivara in all decision and fix a date for rehab project at Chandivali
3rd Feb 2003 – Loksatta- Shabana Azmi is a beneficiary of Sushil Kumar Shinde’s largesse clarification.
17th Feb 2003 – Enrollment for Chandivili housing project to begin on March 9
17th March 2003 – Navbharat Times – National Park Slums to be rehab at Chandivali
17th May 2003- Nivara Meeting
Discuss status of rehab film on rehab participation in World Social Forum 2004
27th June 2003 – Draft development agreement Nivara Hakk, Sumer and Mr.John Dantas Architect
17th Sept 2003 – Can this land house 60,000 families ?- newspaper article
4th Dec 2003 – Letter from SRA giving approvals to 8403 Residences
85 Balwadis, 85 Welfare centers, 31 Society offices
Total TDR – 488739.81 sq.mts.
12th Jan 2004 – Letter to Sushil Kumar, CM – Pass an order stating that this slum rehab project is for national park outsees as order by HC passed on 15th Oct 2003 that the issue has been left with the State government
Allow people who had paid for Kalyan rehab to transfer funds and insist for house at Chandivali
Let people stay at present location and not demolish on 15th March 2004 as per high court order as the construction will take 3 yrs
15th Jan 2004 – Meeting at CM’s office
29th Jan 2004 – Navbharat Times, chandivali
28th Jan 2004 – Navbaharat Times
13th Feb 2004 – Draft agreement
Nivara to be paid Rs.2,000 per family as processing and servicing costs by builder
12th March 2004 – Complaint to Chief Election commission that State government still demolishing huts in the vicinity of SGSGNP despite of election commissions order to wait till elections are over.
29th March 2004 – Bombay HC says demolitions in SGNP violate EC directive, grants stay
Order restraining forest officials to demolish
Officials began demolition on 27th March, razed 1000 dwelling, amounted to changing demographic composition of Mumbai North constituently.
3rd July 2004 – Sumer request payment of Rs.2,23,41, 450 develop cost
20th July 2004 – Sumer group accused of constructing extra
July 2004 – Politicians stop the building of the wall in the park as it would mean removal of slums
Feb 2005 – Sumer corporation clarifies allegations on constructing 6th & 7th floors
5th April 2005 – Consultation meet at SRA office
10th May 2005 – Press conference by IPHRC to attend the release of the report on the lathi charge by the police on 6th April on the morcha by slum dwellers whose houses had been demolished.
29th June 2005 – Nivara writes to SRA that Sumer violating agreement. Instead of G+5 building G+7. Sumer lobbying with Maharashtra government so do not entertain any revision in the plan without ref. to Nivara and no fresh TDR should be used.
10.08.2005 – Meeting at forest dept to check on the work completed
30.08.2005 – Meeting at Mantralaya to discuss progress
16th Setp 2005 – Affidavit and prayers in Notice of Motion of P.K. Das , Vice president of Nivara Hakk welfare centre
Prayers of NHWC Notice of Motion
17th Jan 2006 – demolition of NH office on Chandivali project site by Sumer corp and request of provisional office – Letter to CEO, SRA.
The office block was demolished and the tin board announcing the name of the project and developers was removed and is currently missing. This illegal action by Ramesh Shah seems to be a reaction to our close monitoring of the project which has been inordinately delayed by the builder.
Also request to grant 1000 sq.ft provisional office space on site to monitor progress.
13th March 2006 – Write Petition
Sumer Corp v/s State of Maha & Others
26th Jan 2007 – CM launches Chandivili rehab project for BNP on Jan 26
Kalyan rehab project cancelled. Sushil Kumar Shinde was speaking at as mass meeting of nearly 5000 slum dwellers. He appealed to Sumer corp to complete the scheme speedily and in public interest as BMC had given barely 6 months time for the eviction process to start.
Rehab project has 48 buildings, 5 clusters. First batch of 3000 homes is expected to be ready by June.
1st May 2007 – CM to give away the first keys to the largest rehab project in Asia. Press tour organized by Das & Azmi followed by lunch
News reports – From forest to concrete jungle, city will breathe easy again TOI, 2nd May.
New township raizes the bar for slum rehab
2nd May – Hindustan Times.
8th Oct 2008 – Survey of buildings for phase III allotment at Chandivali for SGNP oustees
Handover date needs to be revised. It can't be 13 – 15 oct.
16th Oct 2008 – Nivara tells Deputy CM, RR Patil to handover houses to 1,300 families on any day between 21st Oct – 28th Oct 2009 before diwali.
21st June 2011- Nivar invites CM Prithiviraj Chavan to review rehab project, including school and other facilities at Sanghash Nagar
22nd June 2011 – CM orders probe into vanishing play grounds, open spaces in Sanghash Nagar
26th May 2011- CM puts on hold construction of high rise buildings for slum dwellers at Chandivali, presses for review of high-rise policy.
CM direct SRA to put on hold construction of 24 storey high rise buildings being constructed by DB Realty for the second phase of rehab.
2nd Sept 2013 – Gurbir's email to Shabana Azmi, PK DasLast major chunks of distribution of 650 homes is over