AID-Atlanta Hands Petition to Maharashtra Chief Minister
June 30, 2005. A petition demanding Maharashtra Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh to address the plight of 80,000 Mumbai slum residents whose houses had been demolished without a proper plan for rehabilitation was handed to him in Atlanta on June 29. The petition put forth by Association for India's Development (AID) and signed by several hundred Indian-Americans and Non Resident Indians (NRIs) was handed to Mr.
Deshmukh, while he was meeting with the faculty of Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta. The Chief Minister was visiting Atlanta as a Chief Guest at the Brihan Mahashtra Mandal National Convention.
On receiving the petition the Chief Minister's only response was that there was nothing to worry about and things are being taken care of. No details were provided.
The affected families of this large-scale demolition of slums are left with no roofs over their heads. With the onset of monsoons, children and women are facing greater problems. The petition raises some relevant and disturbing questions - How and when will the land in east and west suburbs of Mumbai be distributed to the families whose houses were demolished? Where will the children (100,000 children were thrown out of schools due to demolitions) be admitted for school?
The petition was initiated amid concerns in the U.S. about the predicament of the slum families, their protests and the slowness of response by local authorities. Before embarking on the trip to the U.S., the Chief Minister had promised to conduct joint surveys to identify families who settled in Mumbai prior to 2000 and grant speedy relief and rehabilitation within Mumbai.
Dr. Govindaraj, a professor at Georgia Institute of technology and the faculty advisor of AID-Atlanta Chapter said, "As an engineering educator actively working to help India's advances in science and technology, I am deeply concerned that many of these advances may be happening on the backs of the poor. It is my sincere hope, and wish, that the Government of Maharashtra acts speedily to take care of its displaced citizens."
"People not profits should be at the center of any developmental work. We believe that development should start with core human values and this alone can build an India that can sustain the dreams of its billions of people." said Ravi Kuchimanchi, founder of AID.
2. Association for India's Development: http://www.aidindia.org
Enjoyed reading Khabar magazine? Subscribe to Khabar and get a full digital copy of this Indian-American community magazine.