Posted on 09 March 2011.
On March 4 and 5, Deonar in Mumbai played host to a Jan Sansad, also known as a ‘People’s Parliament’.
Organised by the National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM) and Ghar Bachao Ghar Banao Andolan, the Jan Sansad consisted of two days of deliberations on the rights of slum dwellers and various sections of Mumbai’s workforce. Over a 1,000 people from various slums attended the event, which was presided over by a sabhapati mandal, consisting of leaders of movements, activists and people of social standing such as retired Judges Rajendra Sachar and H. Suresh, Swami Agnivesh, BD Sharma, Vidya Bal, Gabriele Dietrich, Banwarilal Sharme, Bhai Vaidya and Medha Patkar.
Over the two days, there were debates on issues of:
- Urbanisation and slum rehabilitation
- Hawkers, traders and mill workers
- Coastal regulations and fishermen
- Accessibility to resources like education, health, water and food
- Politics and corruption
On the issue of Mumbai’s urbanisation, NAPM activist Simpreet Singh said, “In the last five years, 3,00,000 people have lost their homes and 1,00,000 mill workers have lost their jobs. Mumbai is also now the place for a people’s resistance.”
Speaking about the ongoing slum rehabilitation in Mumbai, lawyer Shakeel Ahmad said, “These are some of the demands we need to make to the government:
1) Slum rehabilitation is offered only to residents of slums built before 1995. We want this cut-off year to be removed.
2) Each society can decide if they want to opt for the scheme, but the builder is the one that chooses the representatives of the society. This needs to change.
3) The government must have full and authentic details about the construction company, its credentials, registration etc.
4) The Slum Rehabilitation Authority (SRA) should give a 15-year guarantee for every building it authorises, or it will be answerable.
5) It has to be specified how big each transit camp will be and each dwelling in the camp should be 250 sq ft in size with all facilities.
6) Ownership is supposed to be shared, but this is not mentioned anywhere in the deeds. This must change.”
Call to action
After two days of such deliberations, the Jan Sansad renewed its commitment to bring out the Lokpal Bill, Jan Bhagidari Bill and Development Planning Act which will pave the way for greater political participation of the common man.
The Jan Sansad has called for a massive rally, Jan Chetavani Morcha, in Mumbai on March 22, where hundreds of thousands of people from all the slums in Mumbai will gather to challenge the authority of the State to take over their houses and land.
Emphasising the fact that though India gained political freedom in 1947, social and economic freedom still eludes the vast majority of Indians, the Jan Sansad ended with a call for Azadi or freedom.
Also see resolutions and press release.