This Article is From May 26, 2011

Medha Patkar's fast enters 6th day

Mumbai: Social Activist Medha Patkar's fast enters the sixth day today. She has been demanding a probe into the slum projects in Mumbai.

The 140 acres near the Mumbai airport is occupied by the city's second largest slum: Golibar, which is home to 26,000 families.

The families have clashed with builders Shivalik Ventures over the redevelopment of the slum.

Ms Patkar has been demanding that the controversial land law under which the redevelopment has been approved be scrapped.

In 2008, the state had allotted the land to Shivalik Ventures.

After providing housing to residents the builder could use the rest of the land for commercial purposes.

However, the project was approved under the Maharashtra Slum Areas Act, the controversial Clause 3K which allows developers to redevelop mammoth slums without slum dwellers' consent.

Under this rule the government has already given away eight big slums to select builders despite protests during the tenure of former Chief Ministers Vilasrao Deshmukh and Ashok Chavan.

''3K, all the projects should have been immediately cancelled. Like Shivalik where the fraud is obvious," said Medha Patkar.

"Only when Shivalik Builders arrived here to take over our land did we find out about the deal," said a harried housewife Agnes.

Also under the scanner is the credibility of Shivalik Ventures, a Mumbai-based real-estate company that is partly owned by Unitech, the same Unitech that is under investigation for its links to the 2G scam.

The CBI says Unitech procured 2G spectrum in 2008 at a 'favoured' price of 1,658 crores but off loaded 60% shares to Norway-based Telenor for a neat 230% profit without rolling out any telecom services.  

It is at the same time Unitech invested Rs 1,000 crore in Shivalik Ventures.

The government has halted demolitions for now. It has agreed to discuss a self- development scheme for slums to be used in the future but refuses to scrap the project.

The battle rages on with no resolution in sight.