Anna Hazare joins Medha Patkar to demand housing rights for slum-dwellers

After lending his voice to India Against Corruption, Anna Hazare has joined forces with Medha Patkar to demand land and housing rights for slum-dwellers.

A protest against Slum Rehabillitation Authority (SRA), organised by Ghar Bachao Ghar Banao Andolan of Patkar and National Alliance of Peoples Movements, at Azad Maidan entered its eighth day Tuesday.

It was also the fourth day of a relay fast by 25 representatives of various slums in the city. Hazare arrived in Mumbai Tuesday afternoon and soon after addressed a 2,000-strong crowd at the protest venue.

The anti-corruption crusader said if a meeting with CM Prithviraj Chavan and state home minister R R Patil did not yield the desired result, he would take to the streets for the slum-dwellers.

"These poor people have homes in these slums for years. The government has no right to suddenly raze the huts. I thank you all for exercising the powerful right to protest. I will meet CM and Patil tomorrow (Wednesday), let us see what they have to say. If government response to problems of these people is unsatisfactory, I will join the protest," said Hazare.

The protesters are suggesting Rajiv Gandhi Awas Yojana as an alternative to rehabilitating slum-dwellers. Displaced persons part of the movement demanded an impartial probe into alleged illegal activities of SRA. They said the city development plan should give adequate representation to the poor and not cap free rehabillitation of families living in the city since before 1995.

"People living in slums allow the city to function smoothly - they are citizens too and everyone in Mumbai is dependent on them. Instead of carrying out surveys through computers, BMC should come to their doorstep and see the problems they face," said Patkar.

Jail bharo from Jan 30

Hazare also announced his two-year jail bharo andolan will begin at Gandhi Maidan in Patna on January 30. "We will travel to all states to awaken the 120 crore population - we may not succeed in waking everyone but I am sure we will at least be able to gather around five-six crore," he said, adding, "Those who are supposed to serve people have become masters what independence is this?"

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