June 21, Mumbai, India
This year India is hosting the annual meeting of Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank on 25th-26th June 2018 in Mumbai. The future course of investment will be decided in the meeting which will be attended by policymakers. This meeting can life-changing event for the majority of the masses but not in the positive sense, these masses will get affected due to this investments.
Taking this into the consideration several civic organizations, that are working with communities affected by infrastructure projects came together and organized alternative meeting challenging the nature of infrastructure finance. The convention was held from 21st – 23rd June at Y B Chavan Centre, Nariman Point, Mumbai.
The different sessions conducted in ‘People’s convention on infrastructure financing- A response to AIIB Annual meeting’ were on Deconstructing the project Affected Peoples Mechanism, Gender, Shrinking Space for Civil Society, AIIB, Information Disclosure, Projects and Role of Financial Intermediaries. Also, the workshops were held during the meeting to help the affected people understand the working of AIIB and its consequences on lives of masses.
While investing in various developmental projects the World bank provides certain provisions which can safeguard some rights of the people affected by such projects. However, the AIIB (Asian infrastructure Investment Bank) does not provide any such provisions. One huge section of the population affected by the projects, funded by AIIB, is found to be living in urban slums. A workshop was organised on the first day of meeting to create awareness among people living in slum aware of the upcoming disaster in their lives in the form of International financial Institutions like AIIB.
Anand from Navnirman, Indore who is working on the issues of the demolition of slums in Indore, while speaking with the people said, “ We have to make a strategy which can save bastis from demolition. The government officials, leaders of political parties and builders have the nexus between each other. They want to make new building after every 10 years and they will displace you. There is a huge connection between the plan of smart cities, development plan and land acquisition act”.
The workshop was conducted by volunteers of Navnirman from Indore, Basti Suraksha Manch from Delhi and Ghar Bachao Ghar Banao Andolan from Mumbai. Affected people also shared their experience during the workshop.
Rachita tai from Ambujwadi basti while sharing her experience said, “There were no water, toilets or road facilities available for us, we fought for getting an electricity connection in our basti. The government is now calling our basti as illegal. But I want to ask them, then how the government is giving us ration card and voter ID, they are giving registration to our society. Then how can they say that our basti is illegal? We are with Ghar Bachao Ghar Banao Andolan since 2004. I feel very proud that this Andolan made me aware of my rights. It gave me courage and knowledge”.
Subhadra Kedar from Chandoli village which was earlier an Adivasi pada is now surrounded with buildings, said, “Government is giving us notice to vacate the places where we have been living since 1969, In 2008 they tried to demolish our neighbouring basti. When fought against them then they took us to the police station. We then contacted Medha Patkar and we started our movement. Police again came in 2012 but they cannot threaten us anymore. We are aware of our rights now.”
Jamil bhai from Bhimchaya Basti while sharing his experience said, “In 2004 they demolished houses of approximately 90 thousand people. We were without any support and leadership. After getting support from Medha Patkar and we started Ghar Bachao Ghar Banao Andolan. Our movement started on Azad Maidan it was 35 days long movement. We do not believe in rehabilitation or redevelopment schemes. We want to live in our own house which we ourselves made. When we got displaced from that place it affects our economy and ultimately our survival. Their development is our destruction.”