Right to be included – Before Right to Shelter!! – Vizag

Shared by Nidhi Singh nee Batra, PRIA

Slum-Free India Conference – Andhra Pradesh

Amid preventive custody of nearly 50 agitators including slum residents, leaders and activists of the CPM, a two-day international conference on Slum Free Urban India (SFUI) was held on 14-15 May in Vizag. The Greater Visakhapatnam Municipal Corporation (GVMC) hosted the meet that was organised by the Union ministry of housing and urban poverty to discuss constructive measures to make India a slum free country. Delegates from slum-affected countries like Brazil, South Africa, Australia, the Philippines and Nepal, etc. attended the convention.

Local organisations representing slum-dwellers and working on their behalf have taken exception to their not being involved in an international convention on “Slum-free urban India”

Secretary of ARTD (Urban) Pragada Vasu in a statement took exception to local stakeholders not being involved in the ‘consultation process.’ He said the organisation had approached the GVMC seeking involvement of local stake-holders. He said the slum development programmes of the government insisted on involving the stake-holders at every stage right from planning.

Slum dwellers joined by activists of Left parties staged a dharna at GVMC premises. The GVMC committee had prepared a report and planned to shift all slum dwellers far away from the city by constructing new residential colonies.

Protesting the workshop and GVMC’s proposals, slum residents in large numbers led by CPM and CPI leaders rushed to the spot and raised slogans. Observing the sensitivity of the situation, a huge number of police personnel cordoned off the hotel. The organisers tried hard to pacify the agitators, but in vein.

Followed by heated arguments between officials and activists, the police cleared mob using lathis. When the police started clearing the protestors, tension prevailed for some time and then there was the use of lathis. The arrested persons were shifted to Two Town police station.Later, hundreds of slum residents rushed to the GVMC administration building and sat on a 48-hour-long hunger strike.

However, sources in the GVMC said the in-camera meeting was on policy-making and hence no stake-holders were involved.

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