WB: Slum Dwellers' Conference Demands End to Evictions
Kolkata: With the demands that slum eviction in the country will not proceed without alternative arrangements and adequate compensation, that land pattas should be given to long-term residents of government land including railway-ports, and that monthly electricity bills up to 200 units must be waived, the third state conference of the West Bengal Slum Development Association concluded on Sunday.
The two-day conference was held at Kamarhati in Kolkata on September 3-4.
Tikender Singh Panwar, the former deputy mayor of Shimla Corporation, who was present at the conference, said, "Slum dwellers are about 40% of the total population, but only 2% of the housing land has been allocated for them. In many states, the state governments are making volte-face after demanding recognition of slums. Recently this incident happened in BJP-ruled Madhya Pradesh. Multi-storied complex traders have started to control different parts of the country. Are the cities of the country their multi-story business factories?"
Eminent doctor from the city, Fuad Halim said that although the character of slums has changed somewhat, the number of slums in the country is increasing. About 2 million people lost their jobs and became unemployed again. As a result, the number of slum dwellers is increasing. Slum dwellers have to come forward to establish their dignity and rights through struggle.
The demand to prevent the eviction of railway slums was raised at the conference. It was demanded that a strong movement should be made to demand the end of the eviction of railway slums. It was asserted that all railway divisions should be warned by deputation at Gardenreach, Koilaghata, and Katihar, and that strong slum organisations should be formed before eviction notices are issued. Otherwise, eviction cannot be prevented, the conference rued.
The organisation's general secretary, Sukhranjan Dey, said that demands should be raised to strengthen the fight against slum eviction. "No eviction without alternative accommodation, this is our motto. The Paschimbanga Basti Unnayon Samiti (West Bengal Slum Development Association) has been fighting for this demand for the last 65 years. The slums should be developed by giving leases on the land where the slum dwellers live," he said.
A demand was raised from the Slum Conference for the immediate repeal of the amended Contract Citizens Act-2019. It is also claimed that the leasehold tenants should be given the right to usufruct from generation to generation.
At this conference, there were 371 delegates which included 197 slum dwellers. 34 representatives spoke at the conference. A new state committee was formed with 110 members from the conference. Ashok Bhattacharya became the president. Among the vice presidents are MP Bikashranjan Bhattacharya, and Dr Fuad Halim. Sukhranjan Dey was elected as secretary.
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