24-hour hunger strike called by Medha Patkar after slum demolitions at Golibar

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Along with 600 people, Medha Patkar  launched a 24-hour hunger strike today in protest of the demolitions at Guru Kripa Society in Golibar slum in Mumbai. The demolitions took place despite Housing and Poverty Alleviation Minister Ajay Maken’s plea to Maharashtra CM  Prithviraj Chavan to bring it to a halt. Golibar is one of the six slums which are under inquiry by the Slum Rehabilitation Scheme. The Chief Minister wrote: “I request you to ensure that there is no irreversible damage or eviction of residents. The projects are under inquiry — the aim solely is to protect the already marginalised urban poor.”

Forty seven houses were demolished over the last two days under supervision of Deputy Collector PR Rokade. Close to 235 people have been displaced. Rokade said that there was no communication from the Chief Minister’s office. “We are undertaking the demolitions at Golibar as per the High Court orders,” Rokade added.

The evictions have been taking place since 2010 after 125 acres of land at Golibar were allegedly acquired by forging consent of residents by the construction company  Shivalik Ventures. This has affected close to 26,735 people. The people who have been displaced continue to live in transit camps comprising of a room with no ventilation. “The transit camps are inhabitable and clearly break guidelines. The camps are supposed to be built with non-flammable material, but this is not the case,” says activist Sandeep Yeole.

High Court had said that all residents should be moved to camps fit for habitation with registered agreements. However, NAPM activist Prerna Gaikwad said, “We haven’t received registered agreements from the builder. All we are asking for is our right to suitable rehabilitation, but the government seems to be hand-in-glove with the builders.”

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