“I don’t have a solution for the rehabilitation of Mahul residents; the ‘Government’ will take care of it,” said Prakash Mehta, Maharashtra Minister for Housing,” addressing the Mahul residents on a phone call yesterday, on the fifth day of the ‘Jeevan Bachao Andolan.’ Thousands of citizens who were ‘rehabilitated’ in #MumbaisToxicHell Mahul (a highly polluted area declared unfit for human habitation by two courts) after the Govt. demolished their homes at the Tansa Pipeline stretch last year, initiated the ‘Jeevan Bachao Andolan,’ as Ghar Bachao Ghar Banao Andolan October 28.
Today is the sixth day of their protest and they are yet to get any response from the government, nor is any minister even ready to meet and listen to their grievances. On the fifth day of their protest at Ambedkar Nagar, Vidyavihar (East), residents of Mahul waited till 5 pm in the evening to get an appointment from Housing Minister Prakash Mehta as per his promise on the previous evening.
The BJP Minister was intimated a day before about their plan to occupy the compound in front of his office, in case he failed to listen. Finally, they were left with no other option than occupying his office. Hundreds of affected women and children desperately waited to meet their minister, but even Mehta’s BJP workers who were present in the office at the time escaped from the back door of the occupied office.
However, distressed citizens sitting outside the office for at least 5 hours caught them and gheraoed them until they agreed to call the Minister. He then spoke to the residents through the phone of one of these local BJP workers, who were trying to run away. Nothing came out of the 10 mins conversation between him and Ghar Bachao Ghar Banao Andolan’s representative. All the Housing Minister had to say to these poor people was that he couldn’t do anything to save 30,000 lives from a sure death. The gathering decided to continue the protest.
Meanwhile, a pollution-affected 6 year old girl sitting at the protest had a mild attack of paralysis yesterday. Many children from the Mahul are suffering similarly. Even in this emergency situation, Mahul residents have no other option than taking their sick children to the protest site and demanding justice from the insensitive government.