#India – Demolition double standard: If slums go, why not Campa Cola?

Kavitha Iyer in FirstPost
This is not the first time that home-owners in the financial capital have been in fisticuffs with lathi-wielding policemen. Only, they have been slumdwellers, rioting to stop demolition squads, a common enough scene in Mumbai in the past decade.  So the scenes of residents of the Campa Cola buildings in Mumbai’s upper middle class locality of Worli being physically removed from the path of a bulldozer at their gates may be tragic — being forced to abandon one’s home is heartwrenching, under any circumstances — but there is little reason to see this impending demolition, now postponed through an extension from the Supreme Court, very differently from the countless slum clearance drives of the past.

 

]Campa Cola SocietyThe ruckus at Campa Cola society today

First, some facts: The eviction and impending demolition are not the overnight knockout punch they are being made out to be by residents of the 96 unauthorised flats in the Campa Cola buildings. Stop work notices had been issued during construction, including one as far back as November 1984. The flat-owners and residents were not unaware of the illegalities — one of the building’s architects has said everyone from residents to localpoliticians knew the structures were being built rapidly in violation of stop work notices. The flats were a steal, he contends. Besides, the absent water supply and occupation certificates would have been a persistent alarm bell — the housing societies had to file writ petitions demanding water supply from the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation.

here is more evidence that the residents were not in the dark about the irregularities:

* The trial court noted that the architect had repeatedly told the developers/builders that construction beyond the sanctioned plan was illegal and that the members of the housing societies were aware of this fact.

* When residents appealed against the verdict, the HC agreed with the trial court that members of the societies knew that the flats occupied by them had been constructed in violation of sanctioned plans.

Another fact: The Supreme Court verdict in the case expressly forbids the state from doing exactly what the desperate residents of the illegal homes have been demanding from Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan.

In fact, in its very first paragraph, the judgment points out that courts have in the past “repeatedly cautioned the concerned authorities against arbitrary regularisation of illegal constructions.. ”

It says: “Unfortunately, despite repeated judgments by this Court and the High Courts, the builders and other affluent people engaged in the construction activities, who have, over the years shown scant respect for regulatory mechanism … have received encouragement and support from the State apparatus. As and when the Courts have passed orders or the officers of local and other bodies have taken action for ensuring rigorous compliance with laws relating to planned development of the cities and urban areas and issued directions for demolition of the illegal/unauthorised constructions, those in power have come forward to protect the wrongdoers either by issuing administrative orders or enacting laws for regularisation of illegal and unauthorised constructions in the name of compassion and hardship. Such actions have done irreparable harm to the concept of planned development of the cities and urban areas.”

This judgment came at the end of a litigation that lasted years, fought keenly by residents who didn’t give up even after the February verdict specifically ordering them not to approach any agency for any relief. No less than Abhishek Manu Singhvi’s arguments for the flat-owners were dismissed by the court.

The court specifically rejected Singhvi’s contention for the flat-buyers that they were being penalized for an illegality committed by the builder. “They (flat-buyers) were aware of the fact that the revised plans submitted by the architect had not been approved by the Planning Authority and the developers/builders had foretold them about the consequence of rejection of the revised plans. Therefore, there is no escape from the conclusion that the flat buyers had consciously occupied the flats illegally constructed by the developers/builders,” the judgment said. “… they cannot seek a direction for regularization of the illegal and unauthorized construction made by the developers/builders.”

No less than the Member of Parliament from South Mumbai Milind Deora, also a union minister, has said the case of Campa Cola is starkly different from those of sumdwellers who are, in his words, “individual squatters” on public land. Even fresh off the boat newcomers to this city are not wet enough behind their ears to believe this — it is hardly possible to wander into a part of the city and just place four poles and, err, squat. Slums in Mumbai, even pavement encroachments, are serious, organised business, something Deora is fully aware of.

The only difference is that the poor are expendable — the Congress-NCP Maharashtra government and the Shiv Sena-led BMC together demolished lakhs of shanties between December 2004 and mid-2005, right after the DF government came to power after promising, dangerously, to extend the “cutoff date” for regularisation of slums in Mumbai. Slumdwellers who settled before 2000 would be extended protection against demolition without rehabilitation, was the promise, a bonus of five years from the earlier cutoff of 1995. That promise was made once again in 2009 even though every Mumbai politician worth his vada pav knows that there is a court order against such an extension, that the state’s appeal against this HC judgment is still pending. But then, as we said, the poor are expendable immediately after an election, until immediately before the next.

Upper middle class Worli is not so expendable right now for a combination of local reasons and circumstances, not the least of which is the keen electoral contest that is going to follow soon here.

And that is why the MP and a Congress MLA are petitioning the CM knowing full well not only that this CM has earned a reputation for playing by the book but also that an ordinance is legally inexpedient. To be fair, Deora doesn’t really have a choice — it’s either make the right noises here or watch the BJP sneak off with the sympathies of the locals. So Deora and Amin Patel have been seen at the building, placards in hands, as if they were elected members of the Opposition and not the ruling party. The mayor and his entourage made their mandatory visit, as if the civic administration would be able to turn a blind eye to a strongly worded SC verdict because the municipal commissioner’s political bosses are walking the election talk. And the BJP — perhaps the most keen to milk this situation — pretends it could have handled this better. The only thing that’s left to try is a magic potion from Narendra Modi.

To the Mumbaiite in the slums and chawls, and even in the less affluent suburbs, the unfolding drama is another instance of the failure of the State apparatus to act firmly against illegal constructions belonging to the affluent while not hesitating to take similar action against the jhuggi jhopris, a sort of unacknowledged respect for moneyed illegalities that have a political nexus.

Meanwhile, in Mumbai’s typically hurried style, we have forgotten there is a larger picture, and we have overlooked the minute details. We only want the immediate headlines: An ordinance will not prejudice other cases of buildings with similar illegal floors, said one legal luminary (of course it will); the purchasers were totally in the dark about illegalities (they were not); the politicians are petitioning the chief minister and Sonia Gandhi to intervene (neither has stepped in yet).

But the larger picture is that this landmark SC judgment is also about civic officials and politicians colluding to create a situation where Mumbai’s flat purchasers can never hope to complete EMIs in their lifetime if they want to purchase a flat minus these large cut corners. The SC judgment is in that sense as much about the average flat buyer who can never afford Worli as it is about the desperately poor in Mumbai’s shanties and also about the shiny-eyed hopefuls who dreamt of a home of their own and shifted 45 km away to Mumbra only to die when the illegal Lucky Compound building in Mumbra came crashing down one hot summer day this year.

In fact, in more ways than one, April 2013 was an instructive month if you follow the incredible stuff that makes news in Mumbai.

On April 4, 75 people died in a building collapse in Mumbra. Two  deputy municipal commissioners, fairly senior officials, not lowly peons seeking some palm grease, were among the 22 arrested. They were charged with accepting bribes to permit the blatantly illegal construction.

Four days later, on April 10, Maharashtra Home Minister RR Patil signed on the suspension orders of 36 policemen of a single police station after a plucky activist caught them on camera accepting payoffs ranging from a few hundred rupees to several thousands, depending on the rank, to overlook unauthorised repairs inside a shanty town.

Late the same month, the BMC issued eviction notices to flats in Worli’s Campa Cola society, kicking off the drama that has gained foreground today.

The single thread that runs through much of Mumbai’s biggest malaise — a completely decrepit housing situation — is corruption. The Supreme Court verdict leading up to today’s ruckus in Worli has plenty to say about tackling corruption. The politicians cluck-clucking their sympathies in Worli should instead act strongly against the collusion of officials and builders that allowed the buildings to be built.

There is a lesson to be learnt from the Campa Cola saga. If its demolition is stalled, that lesson will never be learnt.

Related posts

Protests TV won’t show Golibar Demolitions Protest. Hunger Strike for 7 days and counting

By- rapper activist,  Ashwini Mishra

43 families living in Ganesh Kripa Society lost their homes in the first week of April in the illegal Golimar demolitions. The demolitions, driven by Shivalik Builders continued even after Union Minister of Housing Ajay Maken requested the Maharashtra CM to stop them. These demolitions have been driven by a huge scam and the demolitions were supposed to be stopped till investigation was completed.

As of now 43 families are now living on the Maidan but their spirit remains strong. At time of this video, they along with Medha Patkar have been fasting for 5 days to protest the illegal demolitions. By law the builders have to provide the residents alernative accomodations. But no such action has been taken. Stand in solidarity with the people of Golibar and protest this brutal denial of housing rights of the poor.

Related posts

PRESS RELEASE- Maharashtra Government Takes no Action Against Proved Illegality by Shivalik Builders

Photo

Whose Interests are they Serving in this Democracy ?

April 2: Ignoring a stern letter from Shri Ajay Maken, Union Minister for Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation, to Shri Prithviraj Chavan, CM Maharashtra, demolitions in presence of more than 500 policemen and women continued. Nearly 43 houses have been demolished till now by a 200 demolition squad, with active assistance from Shivalik builders bouncers and men, and Kiran Jadhav & Sharad Jhadav, Directors in company personally supervising the same. Houses of Ganesh Krupa Co-operative Housing Society were demolished even though an investigation has been going on against the builders for forging signatures of residents to show their consent for slum redevelopment.

Hundreds of letters asking the Chief Minister to stop demolition has been received too but perhaps pressure from the Builders is too much for Mr. Chief Minister to handle. He has said he will do something, but then why is he not stopping the bulldozers ?

Earlier Ghar Bachao Ghar Banao Andolan – GBGB wrote to Chief Minister once again asserting the following :

  1. Slum Rehabilitation Authority Scheme projects in Mumbai are full of flaws, frauds and corruption leading to atrocities against the slum dwellers. Thousands are made shelterless and sent on rent which is discontinued and others decay in transit camps for years. The land rights and co-operative societies related processes and documents are also found to be violating the law and forgery related cases are also filed but it takes years to get an FIR lodged and it goes through years for investigation.

  2. Maharashtra Government had agreed, after a ten day long agitation in first week of January 2013, to get at least 6 projects investigated through the Principal Secretary, Housing Mr. Debashish Chakravarty. That enquiry began in February and open presentations were made on 7th – 8th February, 2013. Builders – Developers / their representatives were also present in most of the cases and some made submissions too. However, even before the enquiry report is finalized and received by CM’s office and us, there is continuous eviction taking place with police force, destroying decades old houses and vcausing irreversible damage, without resolving the issues. This is extremely unjust. Arrests, false cases and everything happened in the month of March in Golibar and Chandivali, as in other slums.

  3. Even where there are courts’ orders, some or the other directions by the Court are not complied with and yet the eviction is taking place, with brutality. Moreover, in case of Ganesh Krupa, Golibar it is clear that transit camps are not provided within 300 mts as promised and upheld by the Court. The Transit camps are in totally uninhabitable condition as per the letter given by the CEO, SRA in December, 2012 for some other society in Golibar, who were also offered transit in the same buildings.

  4. There is a criminal case filed and enquiry is on in the case of Ganesh Krupa Society, Golibar with documents which indicates that there was no consent by 70% people and the General Body Meeting documents are fraudulent. Similar complaints are lodged by some other societies too. The Joint Commissioner, Mr. Datyeji inspected the documents few days back and directed the officials to re-investigate the matter thoroughly.

  5. None of the societies and dwellers in Golibar have received any document confirming that they will get a permanent accommodation in what time limit, of what area and where (in situ rehabilitation is to be ensured as per the SRA scheme, as also the Court’s orders) and hence people want house on their own land. Also, in none of these, people have received any documents. The files in SRA show the agreements between the slum dwellers and some other contractors which they had engaged earlier, but not with Shivalik ventures.

  6. In the case of Golibar, permanent rehabilitation buildings are on the lands of the Defence Ministry’s and Railways. Defence Ministry’s case is pending before the City Civil Court, Dindoshi as directed by HC. Railways have taken an undertaking that those buildings will be demolished, as and when land is required by Railways. How can the dwellers permit their fate to be hung in such circumstances.

  7. Out of 26,000 families, as slum dwelling families in Golibar, according to the developer, 10,000 families have vacated, while the CEO, SRA and officials claim that permission is granted only for 5,500 families as slum dwellers to be rehabilitated. This gross discrepancy is not yet settled. Whatever, the total number, it is also a ground reality that only 900 families are shifted in the permanent rehab buildings that too on the land of the Defence of Railway Ministry. Not more than 1500 families are in the transit camps. Where are the others? Obviously thousands of families are on rent, shifted out with direct or indirect force but not yet settled anywhere. It is also known from the ground survey that at least 20,000 sq. kms land is vacant and available for the developer and yet forcible eviction is imposed on the people.

Demolishing 70 to 100 years old houses in Golibar is criminal and in complete disregard of law of the land. NAPM strongly condemns such action and vows to continue its fight. You can break few more houses but can’t break the resolve of the people to fight for dignified living and shelter. We urge every conscientious individual to join and support our struggle for a dignified living. Continue writing, protesting and shaming those in power, why are the afraid of their own enquiry report by the Principal Secretary, Housing. Let the truth come out, until then stop playing with the lives of citizens of this country.

Medha Patkar, Prerna Gaekwad, Simpreet Singh, Sumit Wajale, Sandeep Yevale, Jameel Bhai

For details call : 9699918964 / 09423965153

 

Related posts

Mumbai- Medha Patkar and 20 arrested @ Golibar: Demand Justice

English: Medha Patkar in Sasthamkotta

 

NATIONAL ALLIANCE OF PEOPLE’S MOVEMENTS

 

 

 

National Office : A Wing First Floor, Haji Habib Building, Naigaon Cross Road                                                                                  Dadar (E), Mumbai – 400 014. Phone – 9969363065;

 

Delhi Office : 6/6 jangpura B, New Delhi – 110 014 . Phone : 9818905316

 

E-mail: napmindia@napm-india.org | Web : www.napm-india.org

 

—————————————————————————————————————————–

 

Action Alert and Update on Golibar Arrests

 

 

 

Medha Patkar and 20 others arrested at Golibar, Mumbai

 

 

 

Demand Immediate Release of Detainees:

 

Halt to Demolitions and Inquiry into Illegalities and Corruption

 

Seek action against police and Shivalik Builders 

 

 

 

Mumbai: In a series of illegal actions against the urban poor in Mumbai, the city police today came down heavily on Medha Patkar and a group of people resisitng the illegal evitions at Golibar, Khar (East). Other active local residents including Prerna Gaikwad, Ajit and 20 men and women have also been arrested today afternoon. Those protesting have been beaten up very badly by the police and goons on behalf of Shivalik Builders, in the presence of MHADA engineers and officials. The latest information is that at least ten houses have been demolished at Golibar (Khar East). A posse of police vehilces and JCB machines are still at the place and the demolition drive is still on.

 

 

 

The bulldozers at Golibar, a 50 year old slum are once again out to demolish and evict the slum dwellers who have been fighting the corruption and land grab by Shivalik Ventures in which the 2G Spectrum scam ridden Unitech has a stake. In the past the slum dwellers have repeatedly opposed and exposed the illegal acts of the private developers who are all out to grab the land. It was only after the expose that the Chief Minister of Maharashtra scrapped the two 3K projects.

 

 

 

Even now, as usual, no notice has been served on the people before the demolitions. The Mumbai High Court had directed that the residents must be reloacted at good transit camps that are in a completely livable condition and also directed that indiviidual agreements with the residents must be registered. However, without follwing this directive of the High Court, the demolitions are continuing in a totrally illegal maner. It is also significant to note that as recently as on 18th January, the CEO of the Slum Rehabilitation Authority (SRA), Mr. Nirmal Deshmuk ordered a halt to the demolitions, but the same has started once again, with MHADA’s intervention.

 

 

 

It is shameful that instead of initiating action against the illegal builder-encroacher ‘Shivalik’, the administration continues to demolish and destroy hundreds of the dwellings of hundreds of hard-earned poor, along with their properties.  Thousands of basti dwellers across Mumbai under the banner of Ghar Bachao Ghar Banao Andolan are united with the detainees and aggrieved and have been raising slogans of ‘Buildershahi band karo”; ‘Gareebon ka shram kitna, haq kitna, hisaab karo, hisaab do’.

 

 

 

We all request you to kindly call the Chief Minister, Maharashtra-Office and request them to stop the forcible eviction of slum dwellers.

 

 

 

Demand:

 

·        Immediate release of all the detainees

 

·        Immediate suspension, disciplinary and criminal action against all police officials and personnel involved in the demolition drive and force on the people.

 

·        Legal action against Shivalik Builders for all the illegalities and encroachment committed by it.

 

 

 

A string of protest calls from across the nation are pouring in at the Nirmal Nagar Police Station (26471306 / 26470931) and to SPI Bagade (9821600134) for immediate release of the detainees.

 

 

 

Do also call the Chief Minister, Maharashtra at 022- 22025151 and 022- 22025222.

 

Fax the CM @ 022-22817068

 

Send an e-mail at chiefminister@maharashtra.gov.in

 

 

 

In Solidarity,

 

 

 

Sumit Wajale           Madhuri Variyath           Meera               Seela      

 

9892727063              09820619174          09179148973             09212587159

 

 

 

Related posts

When High Court Judges usurp land meant for the homeless, where do the homeless seek justice?

Faiza Khan, Khar East Andolan

Posted on May 6, 2012

When you ask about the court cases in Golibar now, the residents will wrly reply with the famous Hindi film dailogue. “Tareek pe tareek! Tareek pe tareek! “. The hearing on this Monday, the 7th of May, will be 20 months since the Golibar criminal case has been in the Mumbai High Court. In 2009, builder Shivalik Ventures had faked signatures of residents of Ganesh Krupa Society (GKS) in Golibar to claim the 70% consent it needed to redevelop the Golibar slum. On that list of signatories was Sulochana Pawar who had died four years before she allegedly gave her consent. Going by the rules of the SRA, this should have, at the very least, led to the ouster of Shivalik Ventures from this redevelopment project.

Instead, the then Slum Rehabilitation Authority(SRA) chief, Mr. S. Zende (remember this name, it’ll come up again later!) asks the residents of GKS to settle for a compromise. The police had been even more nonchalant and refused to investigate the case until the Court directed them to do so. Once on it, they were so baffled by this seemingly obvious case of fraud that for 20 months, they’ve been seeking extension after extension to complete their investigation. The Court has been very obliging. Meanwhile MHADA’s demolition squads, with police protection continue to break people’s homes.

So the government is clearly not on their side, specially after it backtracked on the GRs last year. The police never was. Their only hope of any justice was in the Courts. Until the Nyay Sagar scam came to light.

Akankhsha tai and other women from Ganesh Krupa are huddled around a copy of Janta ka Aaina, a community newspaper. They burst into cackling laughter. “Yeh toh apna Chandrachud hai!“(This is our Chandrachud!). Apna Chandrachud is Justice Chandrachud of the Mumbai High Court who has been hearing the matter of the Golibar GR case in the High Court. Now he’s on the frontpage, accused in a major land scam, along with Justice Khanvilkar who is hearing the Golibar criminal case (of the forged signatures). There are 13 other Judges and ex-Judges accused.
Nyay Sagar and Siddhant are two multi-storeyed buildings built on a plot of government land that was reserved for the homeless. The judges of the High Court led by then Justice Rebello (now Chief Justice of the Allahabad High Court) formed Nyay Sagar Co-operative Housing Society in 2001 and in collusion with Vilasrao Deshmukh  de-reserved all but 10% of this land and appropriated it for themselves. This change in the Development Plan of this plot, Survey No 341 (Part) CTS No 629 from being reserved for the homless to Residential was facilitated by some very senior bureaucrats, including Mr. Zende (the SRA chief who asked residents of GKS to settle for a compromise). What is shocking though is that the land was handed over to Nyay Sagar CHS much before it was de-reserved.

View Larger Map

Even the de-reserving was a sham. Once it is decided that the reservation of a piece of land is to be changed, there is a notification which is open to the public for 30 days in case they have objections. This notification was made public on 16.6.2004 but just six days later, on 22.6.2004 ,the status of the land was modified. The Ghar Bachao Ghar Banao Andolan has filed a complaint with the Anti Corruption Bureau asking them to file an FIR.

Akanksha tai laughs when she reads the buildings are called Nyay Sagar (meaning Ocean of Justice) and Siddhanth (Principles). But then she asks soberly, “Now where are we to seek justice?”

THE WALL OF SHAME

THE ACCUSED IN THE CASE
1. Shri Vilas Rao Deshmukh, the then Chief Minister,
2. Shri Sangeetrao, the then Collector Mumbai Suburb,
3. Shri SS Zende, the then later Collector Mumbai Suburb,
4. Shri RC Joshi, Principal Secretary, Department of Revenue,
5. Shri Ramanand Tiwari, the then P. Secretary UDD,
6. Other Unknown Govt. Official/s.
7. Justice V C Daga,
8. Justice A M Khanwilkar,
9. Justice B R Gavai,
10. Justice S M Ghodeshwar,
11. Justice S Radhakrishnan,
12. Justice S A Bobde,
13. Justice P V Kakade,
14. Justice R Lodha,
15. Justice G D Patil,
16. Justice F I Rebello,
17. Justice D K Deshmukh,
18. Justice D B Bhosale,
19. Justice D G Karnik,
20. Justice J P Devdhar,
21. Justice DY Chandrachud


A letter from Justice Rebello to ex-CM Vilasrao Deshmukh misusing his official letterhead for a non-official matter
More documents will be made public soon.

JOIN KHAR EAST ANDOLAN ON FACEBOOK

Related posts