Encroachers and the Decay of Mumbai City.
This is a discussion on Encroachers and the Decay of Mumbai City. within the Bad Response or Bribe forums, part of the Government Department category; Enough is enough. It's agonizing to witness the ongoing deterioration, decomposition, shredding of the social fabric and hurtling of Mumbai ...
- 02-04-2009, 04:13 PM #1Unregistered Guest
Encroachers and the Decay of Mumbai City.
Enough is enough. It's agonizing to witness the ongoing deterioration, decomposition, shredding of the social fabric and hurtling of Mumbai to it's slow but sure death, thanks to the exponential growth in the number of slum dwellers and other encroachers. This is having a grave effect upon on every aspect of living of it's legitimate residents due to the consequence of usurpation of a large no. of compulsory open spaces like the footpaths, playgrounds, recreational grounds, railway, other government lands etc. It would be shocking to know that all of this occurs in gross violation of a slew of laws and regulations of the land. They range from the commonest Mumbai Municipal Corporation Act 1888 on one hand to the Constitution of India 1950 on the other which includes Registration of Electoral Rules 1960, Indian Railways Act 1989, Maharashtra Regional Town Planning (MRTP) Act 1966, Development Control Rules 1991, Bombay Police Act 1951 and the Maharashtra Vacant land (Prohibition of unauthorized occupation and eviction) Act 1975 and the Maharashtra Slum Areas (Improvement, Clearance and Redevelopment) Act 1971. None of the law-makers or the law-enforcers seem to have ever
given a serious thought to the aftereffects of the burgeoning population of unauthorised occupiers of our public land which in reality were mandated for providing amenities for the welfare of the law-abiding and tax-paying residents of the city – like smooth running of railways, buses and other vehicles, expansion of government offices, construction of public schools, hospitals and Courts, providing playgrounds, recreational grounds, gardens etc. Alas, none of our so called "public servants" (read elected representatives and administrators) have given a thought to this injustice. They have seldom, if ever, thought beyond their own narrow and short-sighted policies of promoting and pampering their vote- banks by aiding / abetting or protection of the illegal encroachers and deriving pecuniary gains or enhancing their career. At the most (and that too under public pressure) they take action, albeit cursorily and in a half-hearted manner to soothe the ruffled feathers. What's more, once in a while even when some honest and duty conscious officers have sought to diligently clear the encroachers, they have had to contend with insults, obstacles, transfers and punishment postings as penalty for implementing the laws.
One factor that has led to the romance of the politicians and the slum-dwellers is that the latter are being promptly given the voting rights, by the Chief Election Commission (CEC) , irrespective of him / her not being "ordinarily resident" of the city in blatant violation of section 19 (b) of the Representation of People Act 1950. It should be noted by the powers-that-be including the CEC) that the right to vote is not a Fundamental Right under the Constitution of India, but is a creature of the statute, namely Representation of People Act (RPA) 1950. This has been recognized and reiterated by not one but two separate benches of the Supreme Court. Firstly, in the Jyoti Basu Vs Debi Ghosal case (A.I.R. 1982, SC 983 – Para 8), wherein the Hon'ble Judges had asserted that "A right to elect, fundamental though it is to democracy, is anomalously enough neither a fundamental right nor a Common Law Right. It is pure and
simple, statutory right" Then later, this stand was reiterated by the Hon'ble Judges in the Arun Kumar Bose Vs Mohd. Furkan Ansari case (A.I.R. 1983 S.C. 1311, Para 7).
The CEC in his unpardonable ignorance or perhaps his mistaken belief that voting rights is a fundamental right of every citizen (despite them being unlawful residents) have inadvertently rewarded the law-breakers by including them in electoral rolls and to make matters worse our politicians to further complicate things have decreed to provide them with free accommodation at the tax-payers expense. The dismayed Hon'ble Judges of the Supreme Court in the
Almitra H Patel Vs Union of India case (2000 (2), SCC 679, 695) had denounced this trend by stating "The promise of free land, at the tax- payers' cost, in place of a jhuggi, is a proposal which attracts more land grabbers. Rewarding an encroacher on public land with a free
alternative site is like giving reward to a pick-pocket." The term "ordinarily resident in a constituency" contained in section 19 (b) of the RPA 1950 essentially refers to a person
residing in a house or structure or on a plot of land which is meant by law to be used for residence, but does not include a person who has encroached and is living on a portion of land which is not meant for residence and / or prohibited by law to be used for residence or
designated under law to be used for purpose other than residence. Furthermore, such act attracts penalty. As a result of this glaring mis-interpretation or mal-application of law by the CEC, the politicians gleefully welcome, nurture and protect migrants with open arms, much to the consternation of the legitimate law-abiding residents of the city.
Thus, the end result is that a major chunk of the hard-earned tax payers' money collected from the true residents of Mumbai are utilized to provide amenities like housing, electricity, health-care, drainage lines, water supply etc to the slum dwellers. On the other hand the lawful residents are left with a bitter taste in their mouths – apathy from their elected representatives to their problems, usurpation of open spaces, air and noise pollution, breakdown of civic infrastructure, unhygienic conditions, spread of serious diseases like malaria, dengue, tuberculosis, typhoid, cholera and even sexually transmitted diseases like HIV / AIDS, lack of space for pedestrians, traffic congestion, increase in number of unauthorized hawkers, lack of car-parking space, a dearth of green lungs in the vicinity and increase in security threats to the residents. In 2001, consensus reached upon during the meeting convened by the then Chief Minister Shri Vilasrao Deshmukh, to consider ways and means to check influx, was that the metropolis would no more be able to withstand the pressures put upon by immigrants. Despite this rude awakening, the government didn't seem to have learnt any lessons. Some months ago, the present Chief Minister – Shri Sushilkumar Shinde had grandly announced in his speech to the party workers in Trombay
that "Slum dwellers are our Gods". No wonders every politician worth his salt is seen prostrating before slum dwellers prior to elections. What better could be expected from our politicians when
they are out to exploit the weaknesses of the migrants and illegal slum dwellers and convert it into the currency needed to come back to power – votes.
The Maharashtra Government had passed the Maharashtra Slum Areas (Improvement, Clearance and Redevelopment) Act 1971 to protect the encroachers. But then never was it thought fit to give it a permanent deadline. Thus, almost every subsequent government have gone about
extending the deadline beginning from 1975 to 1980 and finally to 1995.
The promise given in the Congress-NCP-RPI manifesto on 1.10.2004 by the Chief Minister, with an eye on the slum vote-bank, promises extension of the slum regularization date from 1.1.1995 to 1.1.2000 if voted to power. Have our "elected representatives" forgotten that they are chosen to provide law & order and better quality of life to the lawful residents of the city ? Don't they realize that the decisions that they take sitting in the Assembly should benefit every true resident and should never be supportive of a law-breaker ? Where will this madness end ?
The Congress-NCP-RPI combine have sought to dangle the "slum regularization" carrot to woo the voters. In their eagerness to appease the voters, they have overlooked the promise made on 12th March 2001 by the Deputy Secretary of Housing Department in his affidavit filed in the Bombay High Court in the Relief Road Housing Societies Association Vs Maharashtra State Government case, that the latter "will not extend the cut-off date of Jan. 1, 1995" and
that "it would take every effort to expeditiously remove encroachments post this cut-off date". Or would the slum regularization promise be fulfilled, if they come to power, by breaching the promise and total disregard of the law, the needs of the city and it's rightful inhabitants ?
Every right-minded citizen should oppose this move of the Government to appease the illegal residents at the cost of well-being of the city if they care to have better quality of life for themselves and for posterity.
One hopes that such regressive and irrational policies are reneged by the powers-that-be and better sense prevails in the larger public interest.
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