Thousands of slumdwellers across Thane district participated in a protest rally to the collector’s office on Friday afternoon.
The rally was against the demolition drive being carried out for the past two days following the high court order to raze encroachments on public land. The protestors, under the banner of Ghar Hakka Sangharsh Samiti, came from 15 talukas in the district.
“This demonstration is just the beginning. We will block roads if the state doesn’t stop the demolitions,” said Shyam Gaikwad of the samiti. “Nearly 40 lakh people will be rendered homeless because of the state government’s decision to demolish the slums. One lakh people have already lost their homes. The state has sent demolition notices without carrying out a survey. They are evicting poor people by force to give the land to builders.”
The protestors also threatened to take “extreme steps” if their demands were not met.
“What was the government doing when the houses were being built? Poor people like us didn’t build these houses. We are even ready to pay the penalty. But if we don’t get justice, we will grab it,” said Pramod Yerunkar, president of the Janakinagar Rahavasi Sangh in Kalwa. According to the district information’s office, of the 96,473 encroachments on the collector’s land, 1,086 have been demolished. Of the 96,473 who had been issued notices, 77,938 replied giving proof of their residences being prior to 1995.
On scrutiny, the authorities had found that 13,836 replies were valid and 9,832 were not authentic. The rest are still being scrutinised.