Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Mar 16:
Slum dwellers of Odisha today agitated against the state government in front of the Assembly asking it to stop demolition of slums without rehabilitation, identify and issue identity cards to all slum dwellers and rehabilitate them under the Rajiv Awas Yojana.
The march organised by Basti Basinda Milita Mancha, which started from Cuttack yesterday, reached lower PMG Square here today. The slum dwellers raised demands such as construction of pucca houses for them under the Rajiv Awas Yojana, acceleration of construction projects under the integrated slum development scheme at Tanla Sahi and other places in Cuttack etc.
“A wide range of people, including physically challenged, women and kids, are here today to oppose the government’s drive to demolish slums without initiating a rehabilitation programme,” said Khageswar Sethi, Joint-Convenor of the Mancha.
“We have spoken to the Revenue Minister today and are hopeful that our demands will be met. We would intensify our protests, should they not pay heed,” Sethi warned.
The Mancha leaders also presented a charter of demands to the Governor, the Chief Minister and the Urban Development Minister and threatened to intensify the agitation if their demands are ignored.
“We want free housing for slum dwellers all over the state. We want the ordinances of the state and central government aimed against the slum dwellers to be withdrawn. We demand that slum dwellers be given identity cards, so that their rights can’t be snatched away by middlemen. We have a seven point charter of demands,” said Sheikh Abdulla, Convenor of Basti Basinda Milita Mancha.
“There are frequent power cuts. There is hardly any water. Government officers keep threatening demolition every now and then. We are poor labourers. The government needs to take care of us,” said Suka Dei who walked all the way from Cuttack to Lower PMG.
“They issued a notice of 30 days and demolished our house without arranging for any alternate rehabilitation for us. What are we going to do? Where are we going to stay? I have come here barefoot,” said another aged woman who broke down while talking.