Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) activist Medha Patkar accused Indore mayor and municipal commissioner of stealing city’s cultural and heritage identities by carrying out large scale demolitions.
Patkar on Wednesday visited Biyabani area where Indore Municipal Corporation (IMC) has pulled down over 400 structures for road widening as per city’s 2021 master plan in March this year, and alleged that city mayor Malini Gaud and municipal officials have crossed constitutional boundaries while demolishing constructions for paving way for Smart City.
“While contesting elections, Malini Gaud promised people here that she would stand with them if their houses were pulled down and walk up to Bhopal if government takes any action towards displacing them from their ancestral homes. But she is now herself leading demolition drives in the area through municipal officials,” she said after taking stock of the situation of residents living in partly demolished houses.
Patkar along with city-based social activists held a meeting with Biyabani residents and registered their grievances.
‘Civic body has no authority to demolish houses built years before IMC came to existence’
During the meeting, she said, that the civic body has no authority to demolish houses which have been constructed years before IMC came to existence.
“Earlier the eviction was limited to slums dwellers, but under the Smart City concept even the middle and small income group people are being displaced from their age-old legitimate settlements,” she said.
She alleged that the Mayor has created a state within a state and is ruling like an autocrat.
“It is so sad that people here are living in their half shattered houses; their livelihood has been snatched. The corporation is neither rehabilitating them nor thinking of compensating the victims,” she said while adding that the acts of the Mayor and commissioner are illegal, inhumane and against the Constitution of India.
The residents are also planning to put up a protest on May 14, when Prime Minister Narendra Modi will visit Vichar Mahakumbh in Ujjain.
High drama as woman video records discussions between Medha and residents
High drama prevailed for about an hour in Biyabani area, when Medha Patkar was taking stock of the situation here. A woman in plainclothes started video recording the discussions that were taking place between Patkar and the local residents. Patkar and the residents grew suspicious of the woman’s presence and started questioning her. The woman actually turned out to a CID sleuth.
Patkar alleged their activities are being spied by administration. The administration and the IMC is keeping a close watch on the residents of the Biyabani and activists who have been raising voices against the demolitions.
The woman identified as Salma Rana was a member of the police and was sent by the civic body to collect the intelligence about residents’ agitation, alleged the activist and the residents. However, the woman turned down the accusations and said she wanted to see Medha Patkar, as she is her admirer.