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Home > National Interest vs People’s Interest : A space for social movements > India: Slum Dwellers Protest No Say On Mumbai Metro Phase II

India: Slum Dwellers Protest No Say On Mumbai Metro Phase II

by Ghar Bachao Ghar Banao Andolan, 13 May 2009

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Ghar Bachao Ghar Banao Andolan

Mumbai Update 13 May 2009

  • Mumbai Metro: Mumbai’s Maytas in Waiting. . .
  • Thousands of Slum Dwellers register their protest to Mumbai Metro Phase II.
  • Propose alternatives that are public-oriented, least displacing and not ploys to grab land.

Thousands of slum dwellers under the banner of Metro Car Depot Hatayo Abhiyan, an affiliate of Ghar Bachao Ghar Banao Andolan registered their protest and resistance on 11th & 12th May to the proposed Phase II of Mumbai Metro rail. The Urban development Department had called for a Public Hearing on the Phase II of Metro Rail at the Yashwant Rao Chavan Centre at Mumbai in which thousands of them participated. The 32 km long Phase II of the Metro Rail Project from Charkop in Mumbai North is to end at Mankhurd in Eastarn Suburbs of Mumbai presently estimated to cost 7,000 crores and lead to displacement of more than 15,000 families and un-employment of lakhs of people.

In November 2008 the Government of Maharashtra had invited suggestions & objections to the Phase II of Metro Rail to which Ghar Bachao Ghar Banao Andolan had mobilised 15,000 letters from which 8000 people were invited fro the hearing but were informed at the last minute. The Phase II proposes to set up a Car Shed Depot spread across 140 acres of land where today are located the slum communities of Janata Colony, Sanjay Nagar, Ekta nagar, Azad Compund, Gandhi Nagar & KD Compound, together known as Laljipada. These slums are not only house to thousands of families but also provide livelihoods to thousands of families, much beyond the residents of above mentioned areas. The residents have been staying there since last 35-40 years and carrying out activities of trade. The activities include the critical job of re-cycling the waste of Mumbai waste, which in terms of produce is much larger than that of Dharavi, in this trade more than 8000 people are engaged. Making of artificial jewellery which is exported all over the world, is another activity that is carried out here. More than 15,000 women are engaged in this activity. The other activities include, Bakeries, Scrap dealers etc.

The total project cost of Mumbai Metro has been estimated by Officials as to be 45,000 crores which has been contested by many according to Shri Sudhir Badami(Transport Expert) would not be less than 65,000 crores! In the context of the experiences of Delhi Metro where the actual rider-ship has been much below than the expected rider-ship or that of Hyderabad where the whole Project turned out to be only a ploy of grabbing land by the dubious Satyam floated Maytas Company, what justifies spending of thousands of crores of rupees on an financially-environmentally & socially un-viable project is the question that has been raised by all.

Mumbai Metro is to turn out to be Mumbai’s Maytas as under the proposed Notification for the same provides for far sweeping powers to the Developers as it stipulates that the surplus land can be sold off by them in the open market similarly the Order proposed to reserve 50 mts on both sides of the central line of MRTS for regulation of development and redevelopment, especially commercial, which points to the fact that Metro is a ploy for furthering the land grab for real-estate development.

As per the information available no Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) has been proposed or done, which is a statutory requirement under the Environment Protection Act, 1986 and also it is to cause havoc to the Poisar River system as the proposed Car Shed Depot is right over the river system and at a short distance from the National Park.

The Metro is not to provide with any solutions to the traffic related problems has been iterated by number of studies and reports. It is also worth noting that as per a study undertaken by transport experts in IIT, Delhi, 45% of Mumbai’s residents are pedestrians or use cycle as one of the options of conveyance. Rather than going in for the highly capital-intensive Metro Plan which is not going to address the real concerns, issues and needs of commuters of Mumbai city, various combinations of options like BRTS , Mono Rail, Sky bus, pedestrian friendly roads, improved local train network, efficient road transport would be the cheaper, better, workable, environment and people- friendly option.

The State is just pushing the Project ahead as leaving aside the Public Hearing no sort of consent or consultation has been held with the residents. No sort of information has been shared even under the Right to Information, as the same has been refused by taking the absurd proposition that "sharing of the information would be a threat to the security of the nation". All this proves that the State facilitating the Corporates & Consultants from Reliance to WB-JBIC is engaging in land grab leading to displacement and destitutionalisation of the residents especially the poor and the working class populations of the Mumbai city for the purpose of transforming it into a world class city.

The Andolan has demanded that the entire process of public hearing be revoked at once and a fresh public hearing be called after following all the 19 elements which are required to be followed in the terms of section 7 of the Indian Tramways Act, 1886. The least and not the last should be the decision taking the Metro Rail Project (Phase II and also Phase I in such a way and in accordance to the Draft Order and National R&R Policy) that minimum displacement and damage to human lives and property be caused and in this regard EIA be carried out . It is obvious that to fulfil this, it is imperative that the Car Shed Depot that has been proposed at Laljipada be shifted to other site.

Medha Patkar, Lal Babu, Tiwari ji, Mohan Chavan, Simpreet Singh, HM Chandershekar