Slum Movements

Kamraj Nagar, Vile Parle

In 1988, the BMC decided to demolish this settlement in order to reclaim the service road, which it said was essential to the efficiency of the Western Express Highway. No alternative accommodation was promised. More than 800 families lived there. Also the land on which the slum dwellers resided belong to the State government and not the BMC but the State Government was kept in the dark about this demolition drive. On 12th May 1988, without any notice being served, 200 huts were demolished, goods were set on fire and even looted. All these residents were listed in the 1983 electoral roll and were eligible for alternative housing.

Nivara Hakk intervened and moved the Bombay High Court. It came up before Justice Lentin, a judge who understood issues of slums, and livelihood of the poor, and he stayed the demolition and asked the state government and the BMC to find an alternative for the people. Simultaneously, morchas and meetings with the BMC were held. The then Deputy Municipal Commissioner G Khairnar, known for his no-nonsense, dictatorial style of governance, which left little space for negotiations, in this case lent a sympathetic ear and he asked his office to scout for alternative land.

Meanwhile on the ground the residents continued their struggle. Nivara Hakk urged them not to give up their land without getting an alternate pitch, some even laid themselves in front of the bull dozers and around 20 people got injured during the May 1988 demolitions. They said they had absolutely nothing to lose and fighting for their rights was their only chance of creating a home.

After several meetings and negotiations, Nivara Hakk identified three alternate government land at Oshiwara for rehab of 820 families and submitted a proposal to the government. No demolitions were to be carried out till rehab accommodation were given was certified through a writ petition. After several twists and turns, the residents of Kamraj Nagar were given pitches for alternative homes in Santosh Nagar, near Film City, Dhindoshi, quite close to where they originally resided.

In May 1994, the first allotment letters were distributed to 325 families. There were some 70 allotments which were bogus created by the nexus of slum mafia and the local authorities. Around 29 families were refused allotments, due to the mistakes and delays by the collectorate office. Nivara Hakk pointed out these grave malpractices and managed to correct them through court orders.

The struggle continued in Santosh Nagar. In 1995, Nivara Hakk demanded civic facilities like water, toilets and garbage cleaning at Santosh Nagar as the BMC did not provide these basic amenities to the new inhabitants, making their lives miserable. The residents had come together to maintain a water pipe line as the BMC regularly cut water supplies in the area. By January 1997, an additional 394 allotments were completed and the file was closed.

The Kamraj Nagar Demolitions Report: A case of state lawlessness (5mb)


Struggle Chronology


27th May 1988 – Probe sought into demolition of huts
Indian Express – Illegal demolition and subsequent case of arson.
20 persons injured in demolitions on May 12th. No notice had been served. Second demolition on May 17th where civic squad set fire to reconstructed houses and looted belongings. According to Nivara Hakk, three alternative sites on the govt. land at Oshiwara have been identified for rehab of 820 families at Kamraj Nagar and a proposal has been submitted to the government.
They are all mainly construction workers from Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu and first came to limelight when former Chief Minister A.R Antulay carted them away to Solapur.

27th May 1988 – Hutment dwellers to give up land- Times of India
200 hutment dwellers agreed to make available 30 feet of land for widening the Western Express Highways in return their huts will not be demolished till alternate accommodation was given.
The land belonged to the State Govt. and it was kept in dark about the demolitions.

27th May 1988 :Demand to probe demolitions – Free Press
Report of Kamraj Nagar Demolition – 'A case of State lawlessness'


4th May 1994 – Distribution of allotment letters to residents of Kamraj Nagar as per order in HC Writ petition no.1606 of 1988

Letter to Ward officer, K West ward from NHSS
325 allotment letters have been distributed out of 412. 29 residents whose names were intimated by Collector Bandra have not had allotment letters distributed as yet.
For the remaining 70 persons be extra vigilant as bogus people are also trying to claim.
320 sent to P North ward for follow-up action out of 350 as per 25.6.1994

16 wrong persons given allotment letters- grave malpractices committed.

8th August 1994 – Resettlement of Kamraj Nagar at Santosh Nagar, Dhindoshi
16 cases detected. Photo of illegal persons attached.

5th Sept'94 – Civic Amenities for Santosh Nagar- letter to ward officer, P.North by NHSS

Water shortage, no garbage cleaning, toilets either locked by private groups or not cleaned.

1st Dec 1994 – Lack of civic amenities at Santosh Nagar
4000 families live there but ward officer is not upgrading services
Letter to BMC Commissioner Sudha Bhave
29 families refused allotment on grounds that certification was too late. It was collector's delay in certification, modify this anomaly and grant allotment letters.

No allotment letters till 2nd March 1995
11 allotment letters given on 26th May 1995


27th March 1996 – allotment letters to 29 persons by Kamraj Nagar by BMC
20 persons verified. More time for remaining

30th April 1996 – water supply cut off to Santosh nagar D Ward

9.7.1996 – letter to P Ward
Residents have decided to come together to take responsibility of maintaining a pipe line

21st Aug 1996 – Completion of allotment letters 6 had rival claimants. Give letters to balance and close file.

8th Jan 1997 – Cancel 13 allotments as they are non-bonafide persons . 394 in all.