Thousands of activists and slum dwellers from across the city embarked on a two-day march on January 1 afternoon to highlight the housing problems faced by the urban poor in Mumbai.
The march was organised by the National Alliance of People’s Movements, under the leadership of Medha Patkar.
Here is the statement by NAPM:
Long march on foot reached its second day when urban poor of Mumbai marched on the streets of Mumbai demanding their land and housing rights. The march began on January 1 from Shivaji Park at 10 am. Flags held high, slogans of Sangharh and Nirmaan echoing, a sea of people marched towards Mantralaya. The marchers walked past various Chawls where people greeted the marchers, showed solidarity, especially people from Ambewadi, Parel, who are also fighting for their housing rights.
When the march reached VT station, there was heavy rapid action force and police, who had surrounded the whole VT area, Azad Maidan and blocked most roads going towards Mantralaya. It was quite ironical as this was a march that was marching on the Gandhian path of non-violent protest. After much negotiation with authorities at Mantralaya and police, the marchers finally reached AzadMaidan.
Thereafter, a press conference was held where Medha Patkar and various other activists working in different slums of Mumbai briefed the press about their issues and demands, shedding light on frauds done by corrupt builders in nexus with politicians, bureaucrats and administration. The letter that will be presented to the CM was also released to the press.
Many social activists, people’s organisations, socially conscious citizens and students came out in support of the marchers. Anil Hebbar from Bharat Jodo Abhiyan, Minaar Pimpale from YUVA, Maruti Bhapkar, former corporator of Pimpli Chinchwad, Anand Patwardhan, well known documentary maker and social activist, Kaushayala Gade from Mahila Sangthan (Aurangabad) joined the people at Azad maidan and showed their solidarity.
At 6pm, a delegation of 20 member-representatives of slums went to meet the Chief Minister but there they were stopped as authorities wanted only 6 people in the delegation. Also, not enough time was given to discuss all the issues in details. Therefore, the delegation decided to come back and has decided to go only when a proper appointment and enough time for discussion is given to all 20 representatives of all slums in the delegation because people have marched for 2 days, covering almost 30 kms on foot and thus they deserve a chance to put forward their grievances at length. And therefore, the people continue to sit at Azad Maidan.