Social activist Aruna Roy Thursday sought the help of United Progressive Alliance chairperson Sonia Gandhi to end the fast undertaken by activist Medha Patkar in Mumbai to protest the demolition of slums.
"I want to reiterate the urgency of this matter, given both the democratic imperative and in light of Medha's failing health and thus request your immediate personal intervention in this matter," Aruna Roy said, in a letter to Sonia Gandhi released to the media.
According to Roy, union minister of housing and urban poverty alleviation Ajay Maken requested Maharashtra chief minister Prithviraj Chavan to intervene in the matter and ensure that slum dwellers are not evicted, in violation of the existing policy of in-situ development and resettlement.
"In light of Medha's failing health and the undeniable constitutional and moral imperative to resolve this issue in a democratic manner, I wrote to Chavanji to request that a process of dialogue with Ghar Bachao Andolan be immediately initiated," Roy said in her letter to Sonia Gandhi.
Slum demolitions, in violation of the government's policy against forced slum evictions... do incalculable damage to the public perception of the UPA government as an advocate of the aam aadmi, Roy said in her letter.
On Thursday, Patkar's indefinite hunger strike against the eviction of slum dwellers from the Golibar area of Mumbai entered the eighth day, and there are reports that her health is deteriorating. She has complained of backache and nausea.
Patkar has alleged corruption and "atrocities" by builders in the city's slum rehabilitation scheme, and called for the halting of six projects by the Slum Rehabilitation Authority, until a proper inquiry is conducted.
Meanwhile, many people, including slum dwellers, are taking part in relay fasts at the Golibar ground, in solidarity with Patkar.