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Maharashtra State Human Rights Commission upholds the rehabilitation rights of slum dwellers living on Mangrove landOrder will give relief to around 1500 families in Cuffe Parade slum

Mumbai | 26th January 2020: In the 71st year since India became a Republic, Maharashtra State Human Rights Commission (MSHRC) upheld the rehabilitation rights of the slum dwellers living on Mangrove land. MSHRC has directed the Chief Secretary of Maharashtra to form a committee of experts in order to make a rehabilitation plan for around 1500 families of Ambedkar Nagar slum in Cuffe Parade, Mumbai whose houses were demolished by the Mangrove Cell of Maharashtra Forest department in May 2017. “Finally after almost three years since our houses were inhumanly destroyed overnight, our rehabilitation right has been recognized. It’s the most appropriate gift one can get just before Republic Day’, says Jagdish Gujar a resident of Ambedkar Nagar slum who lost his house in the demolition drive. The order was passed by MSHRC on 30th December 2019, however, the detailed order copy was received by the complainants on 24th January 2020.

The Mangrove Cell of Maharashtra Forest Dept. has been demolishing slums in Mumbai which are located in and around the Mangrove areas pursuant to an order passed by the Bombay High Court directing the government to conserve and protect mangroves. While doing this the Cell has completely ignored the rehabilitation rights of people living in these areas. Ghar Bachao Ghar Banao Andolan (GBGBA) has been agitating against this injustice ever since the demolition drive started. When the Ambedkar Nagar slum was demolished, a complaint was filed by GBGBA before MSHRC, in which matter this order was finally passed after extensive hearing.

GBGBA supports the conservation and protection of not only mangroves but environmental rights in toto. However, this cannot be done at the cost of basic human rights of the slum dwellers. GBGBA does not support the manner in which the Forest department has been executing orders for the protection of mangroves while blatantly violating the right to shelter, right to life and dignity of the slum dwellers. In the name of protecting trees, the government cannot jeopardise the lives of poor citizens by rendering them homeless by denying them their right to shelter and proper rehabilitation. Mangrove Cell by cracking down on the meagre hovels of the poor while conveniently turning a blind eye to the major violators who have cleared out and destroyed large tracts of mangrove areas for real estate development in Mumbai and Navi Mumbai has shown it’s anti-poor stance. 

Before carrying out any demolition drive, due process of law should be followed which includes rehabilitation of all eligible slum dwellers and preserving the dignity of all. Instead of doing that the Mangrove Cell has been demolishing slums summarily. While the Cell defended itself by saying that the Forest Department does not have a rehabilitation policy to rehabilitate slum dwellers, MSHRC refused to accept this stand and directed the formulation of a special policy for the rehabilitation of residents of Ambedkarngar. MSHRC also said that the government cannot be discriminatory by rehabilitating one set of slum dwellers while ignoring other similarly placed persons. MSHRC has directed compliance with the order within three months. 

GBGBA along with the Ambedkarnagar residents welcome and celebrate the order passed by MSHRC and hope that the Government will act expeditiously to comply with the order. GBGBA also hopes that the order will come to the aid of similarly placed slum dwellers to protect their right to housing.


GBGBA condemns the rape of woman environment activist – Demands immediate action by Mumbai Police on such groups


Mumbai | 29 June: Ghar Bachao Ghar Banao Andolan (GBGBA) strongly condemns the rape of a woman environment activist by five men who were apparently aggrieved by the woman’s complaint about destruction of mangroves.

GBGBA is also shocked to know the callousness of the Mumbai Police department who didn’t take immediate steps which would have avoided such a heinous crime.
Generally, every informal settlement in Mumbai has a strong and active nexus of slumlords and local police which is involved in illegal selling of govt. and private plots to poor working class of the city to construct their dwellings. This nexus controls water and electricity supply. Sell plots by cutting trees of mangroves and fill the marshy land by filling debris. Members of this nexus also harass the women living in the community and in nearby areas physically and sexually. This nexus takes full advantage of the helplessness of poor working class of the city who due to the unavailability of cheaper housing option fall prey to slumlords. Slumlords control areas far away from the sight of the city-mainly marshy areas and only allows construction of a hut when they are paid some money. Police is directly involved in this.
Several activists GBGBA have in past made complaints to local police station of their respective areas complaining cutting mangroves, public consumption of hooch, harassment of women and so on only to be returned with hollow assurance.
There will be considerable fall in the number of crimes in Mumbai if such nexuses are systematically brought down.
Uday Mohite      Punam Kannojiya      Jamil Akhtar     Bilal Khan    Medha Patkar 
Contact: 9958660556

Mumbai – Activist Raped After She Exposed Mangrove Killers #WTFnews

By Linah Baliga, Mumbai Mirror |
Activist raped after she exposed mangrove killers
Rubble from the razed shanties

Five men sexually assaulted her a day after her complaint led to the demolition of their illegal hutments in Kandivali’s CharkopAn activist engaged with conserving the mangrove cover in Kandivali’s Charkop area was raped by five men on Sunday afternoon after her complaint led to the tearing down of illegal hutments raised on the green patch at Sai Dham Nagar.

The Charkop police have booked 45-year-old Jialal Chouhan, his sons Ram (25) and Laxman (20), Munnalal Prajapati (45), and Ram Milan Yadav (45) for rape and assault under Indian Penal Code sections 326 and 376, among others. The first information report was lodged on Monday.

The mangrove swamp in Kandivali routinely sees trees getting killed, debris dumped indiscriminately, and unauthorised structures constructed to be sold for up to Rs 12 lakh.

The activist is associated with a non-profit called Anyay Nivaran Bhrashtachar Nirmulan Paryavaran Sanrakshan Sanstha, which works against corruption, injustice and environmental destruction.

On Saturday, she lodged a plaint with the forest department about the shanties that she had seen come up in the past few days on land which is supposed to be protected by the coastal regulatory zone (CRZ) norms. A day later, she was sexually abused for getting the authorities to enforce the regulation.

Archana Shinde, state president of the NGO the activist was working with, told Mirror: “She was assigned the task of monitoring mangroves. After her complaint on Saturday, the structures were demolished.”

Then, around 3.30 pm on Sunday, the men who had built the shacks went to her home and began filming her from the window to terrorise her, Shinde said. “They dragged her outside and hit her with an iron rod. She was thrust to the floor and raped. Her mother heard the commotion, arrived at the spot and called the police. It must have been 4 pm then,” she said.

She was taken to Ambedkar Hospital nearby, where she received stitches on her face and ribs. Shinde said that the police didn’t inform the hospital about her case.

The victim spoke with Mumbai Mirror over phone. “I didn’t know being a complainant would create this nightmare. They have destroyed my spirit. I am unable to go to the bathroom. My whole face is swollen. I am in terrible pain. Even the police are hand-in glove-with the rapists,” she said.

Her lawyer, Laxmi Narayan, said that the police official on duty at Charkop police station, Mahadev Tukaram Bhonsale, didn’t register the FIR on time. “Instead, he went to her house and arrested a family member after taking a cross-complaint from the accused. He pressured the victim to withdraw the plaint,” he said, adding that her statement hasn’t been recorded accurately. “I am going to make another complaint,” he said.

Bhonsale said the FIR had been registered on Monday and that the matter was in court.