Mumbai: Social activist Medha Patkar will led a protest march of Mahul residents on Saturday from Carnac Bunder to Mantralaya, demanding that Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis discuss their demands and give them liveable facilities. The protesters have threatened to sit outside Mantralaya until Fadnavis meets them and resolves the issue.
The residents have been on a chain strike for the past 45 days, demanding freedom from toxic living conditions, pollution-related deaths and diseases. Bilala Khan, convener of the Ghar Bachao, Ghar Banao Andolan said, the government had thrust this on the poor of Mumbai city, just to appease the builder lobby.
Khan said, “The Bombay High Court, declaring Mahul unfit for human life, has ordered the state government to find more humane accommodation for 5,500 families, and yet the Maharashtra government chooses to ignore court orders. Meanwhile, more than 150 of the poor people who had been evicted from their slums and ‘rehabilitated’ in Mahul have died from pollution-related illnesses in the last 18 months, while dozens of others are critically ill.”
“Instead of taking action, obeying court orders and saving human lives by providing alternative accommodation which is already in its possession, the government has responded to both the protest and High Court order and ‘taken action’ by taking these protesters off the voting list two days ago ahead of the 2019 elections, thereby ‘erasing’ them as low income citizens whose only power against oppression in a democracy is their vote,” alleged Khan.
Protesting Mahul residents have “occupied” a pavement in Vidyavihar, near the old slums from which they were evicted, and have made it the venue of their protest for 45 days now. They are demanding accommodation fit for humane living, as ordered by the Mumbai High Court. In the course of this protest, children have suffered pollution-related paralysis attacks and older people have died.
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