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Mumbai, Equal Housing Opportunities in Dharavi Redevelopment Project

Public Meeting on World Habitat Day / World Zero Eviction Days  on the issue of Equal Housing Opportunities in Dharavi Redevelopment Project (DRP):  26th  October 2013.

PROUD in collaboration with  SRS and PUKAR organized a public meeting on World Habitat Day(WHD ) / World Zero Eviction Day(WZED ) on 26th  October 2013, 4pm at St. Anthony High School, Dharavi, Mumbai. About 200 people comprising community activists / housing society members / community leaders from different parts of Dharavi participated and among them women were in large  numbers.

In the beginning of the program, Mr. Sachin Kadam , Rehabilitation Manager of  SRS gave a brief introduction of the participants specially the various speakers and anchored the program.

Mr. Prashant  Anthony , Co-ordinator of PROUD welcomed all the delegates and gave an introduction of the subject and the objectives of the meeting; He explained about United Nation’s Habitat  Forum  on human settlements Habitat-II,  it’s composition, objectives and guidelines for it’s member countries to ensure housing rights for all human beings and to protect from forced evictions. He also spoke about World  Social  Forum(WSF ) and adverse effects of Globalisation and neo-liberal policies that are in the interest of rich,  real estate developers, corporate giants who are in strong nexus with politicians to dominate and exploit the poor everywhere.

Prashant said that while UN-Habitat declared 1st  Monday of October every year as World Habitat Day, World  Social  Forum(WSF ) and World Alliance of Inhabitants(WAI ) has dedicated entire month of October to celebrate World Zero Eviction Days(WZED ).

Prashant concluded his talk saying that the important issue today for the people of Dharavi is to be united together to face builder’s onslaughts, help one another to ensure justice to all.  Finally he also urged and invited all local NGOs/CBOs & Co-op. Hsg. Societies to be part of WAI and strengthen the struggle for housing rights.

Mr. Hariram  Delhiwala,  Gen. Secretary of PROUD spoke about the general public opinion of  Dharavi regarding DRP and said that there is a mixed reaction of the people, he said about 10-15% of the population of Dharavi consisting of Fishermen colony, Potters colony and large Industrial units who are against the DRP as they have  a disadvantage of losing their existing land in the scheme but about 85-90% of Dharavi residents are with less than 100Sq.Ft. shanties who will be benefited by this DRP scheme where they shall be given 300Sq.Ft. homes.

He also raised questions about constant delay in implementing  Dharavi redevelopment. He stated that everyone with present structures should be incorporated as  eligible beneficiaries  in the DRP. It’s right of Dharavi residents.

Then Prof. Dr. Jalinder Adsule  (Nirmala Niketan College of Social Work) oriented about Rajiv Awas Yojana(RAY ) he differentiated that RAY is much better than the SRA but in Mumbai its implementation has not started. Builder lobby is more powerful in Mumbai and they are making huge profit through Slum Rehabilitation Scheme (SRS). People were not demanded free houses but then also government came up with free housing scheme.

Mr. Adolf Tragler,  Director of SRS briefly oriented about Dharavi Redevelopment Project. He answered some of the queries of the participants about Dharavi redevelopment according to DRP-draft planning proposal made by SRA.

Later, some participants also  shared their views and concerns in the meeting. Most prominent issue raised by the women was about families in rented homes in Dharavi. Whether they will be eligible beneficiary for a house or not? They asked these questions to Mr. Suryawanshi  (CDO), a spokesperson from local Govt. Authority. He said that there may be no provision in the project for them but they could come to DRP office and discuss any issue with DRP.

In this meeting we came across many single women, widows and women led families. Their incomes are very low because either they are daily wage labourers or domestic helps. These women’s average monthly income is 8-10 thousand. Post rehabilitation they will find it difficult to meet the cost i.e. taxes and maintenance. Some of them are staying here since more than 10-15 years but they could not purchase a single hut. It shows that they  belongs to extremely poor class. We are recommending that for smooth and speedy progress of the project government should make provision of govt. homes for these families as well. Otherwise government will face great resistance from the families in rental accommodation. People are demanding DRP/government should be inclusive in the planning and government must include families in rental accommodation also in the project. They are hoping, DRP will consider their issue as genuine and will pay attention and take appropriate steps prior to starting implementation of the project.

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