Evicted slum-dwellers get flats, Bhapkar ends 7-yr-old protest
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Bhapkar says apart from the eviction of authorised slum-dwellers, he was fighting against increasing suicides of farmers in the state, death of tribal children due to malnutrition and government's bid to acquire farmers' land in the name of SEZ
FOR seven years he went barefoot demanding rehabilitation of slum-dwellers who were evicted from the slums at Anandnagar in Chinchwad and Siddharthnagar in Nigdi. After the PCMC resettled slum-dwellers in flats of their own in high-rise buidlings, activist-politician Maruti Bhapkar has now started wearing footwear.
At a function held in Siddharthnagar recently, Bhapkar was felicitated by slum-dwellers. They washed his feet with curd and milk before he re-donned the footwear. Activist Manav Kamble, Arjun Khade, Ganesh More and corporators Tanaji Khade, Ashwini Chikhale and Shubhangi Borade were among those present. "It requires guts to walk barefoot in 40 and 42 degress Celsius," says Kamble.
Bhapkar says apart from the eviction of authorised slum-dwellers, he was fighting against increasing suicides of farmers in the state, death of tribal children due to malnutrition and government's bid to acquire farmers' land in the name of SEZ.
Bhapkar had given up wearing chappals at midnight on August 19, 2005. "From August 9 to 18, we held an agitation in front of PCMC headquarters against the eviction of slum-dwellers," he recalled.
Bhapkar says they had approached leaders like Vilasrao Deshmukh and Ajit Pawar, seeking justice for the slum-dwellers, but to no avail. "We then filed a police complaint against the then PCMC chief and PCNTDA CEO, among others...The court had ordered a police inquiry in the matter," he said.
Recalling the plight of the evicted slum-dwellers, Bhapkar said a pregnant woman had to deliver a child under a parked truck in Ota scheme area of Nigdi. "We then moved the State Human Rights Commission whose chairman personally visited Nigdi to see the plight of the evicted slum-dwellers," said Bhapkar. Over 200 families have been rehabilitated in PCMC's flat scheme under JNNURM. "Some 125 have got new flats, while another 70 have become eligible for flats," he said, adding, "We have been successful in stopping the government from acquiring land for SEZ in Maan, Khed, Karla and Nashik."
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