Friday, February 28, 2020 19:24

Mumbai Slum-Dwellers Wary of Poll Promises (Indian Elections)

Tagged with: ,
Posted by on Thursday, April 24, 2014, 12:33
This news item was posted in World News category and has 0 Comments so far .

After four decades in the same Mumbai slum, Vimal Gaikwad is well used to politicians’ tall promises at election time, when the city’s millions of shanty dwellers become sought-after voters.

Mumbai Slum-Dwellers

Mumbai Slum-Dwellers

“The candidates just promise and say they will help, and then they do nothing,” said the 60-year-old grandmother in the northeastern Bhim Nagar neighbourhood.

When they go to the polls on Thursday in the latest leg of India’s marathon election, slum dwellers say they won’t be fooled by last-minute promises to improve their lot – especially from the ruling Congress party.

Mumbai’s current six MPs are members of Congress or one of its allies. A few weeks before the election, the Congress-led government of Maharashtra state extended a scheme making slum dwellers eligible for free housing.

“We believe in a slum-free Mumbai and we believe in rehousing slum dwellers, using that land for important infrastructure projects,” South Mumbai’s Congress MP, Milind Deora, told AFP while campaigning.

But slum residents and housing experts are sceptical of the news so close to an election, and many believe the scheme itself is flawed.

On the outskirts of Dharavi, one of Asia’s most famous slums and the backdrop to movie Slumdog Millionaire, 40-year-old Navnath Chaugule and most of his neighbours are now eligible for new homes.

By the banks of the Mithi River, Chaugule recounted how they filled their swampy land with 60 trucks of rubble to make it habitable in the mid-1990s.

“Now the government is eyeing it. Wherever you see sugar, you will see ants around it,” he said, fearing the community would be forced to shift to the outskirts of the city to make way for new developments.

“If they want to demolish our homes, no problem, but we want rehabilitating here only,” chipped in his neighbour Faheem Ansari, 20, a driver.

“If there was a fire here no political party would come and help us. But to fulfil the promises not fulfilled, we need an alternative,” said Chaugule.

Introduced in 1995 by a Shiv Sena-BJP alliance, the slum rehabilitation scheme offers developers prime land to build on if they rehouse the residing slum dwellers, 70 per cent of whom must consent. Fewer than 200 of the 1,524 allotted projects had been completed by late last year, according to local reports.

“People are watching critically,” said Jockin Arputham, president of the National Slum Dwellers Federation, adding that ‘gimmicks’ such as changing the scheme’s cut-off date would not solve Mumbai’s deep-rooted housing crisis.

Those in Bhim Nagar slum said their Congress MP had done nothing to improve their living conditions in the past five years, but was still likely win votes from the low-caste community because of the party’s “secular” and traditionally pro-poor image.

Political analyst Kumar Ketkar said slum dwellers were well aware their votes could be a ‘weapon’ if promises were not fulfilled.

You can leave a response , or trackback from your own site .

No Responses to “Mumbai Slum-Dwellers Wary of Poll Promises (Indian Elections)”

Leave a Reply