On March 30th women of Worli BDD gathered under their organization- Lok Raj Sangathan, Worli Committee. They had come to discuss the problems they were facing in regard to the newly introduced “Food Security Act”, which is being touted by the ruling Congress Party as benefiting the poor. The women angrily denounced the authorities for stopping even the meager ration which they were getting under the earlier scheme. On one pretext or the other the ration authorities had made sure that neither those who were entitled to wheat and rice at Rs 2 and Rs 3 per kg respectively, nor those who were entitled to ration at the old rates of Rs 7.20 and Rs 9 respectively received their rations for one month. The women present at the meeting decided to confront the ration officer in charge and ask him to vacate his seat if he is unable to fulfill his duties.
They also discussed what to do for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections scheduled for Mumbai on April 24th 2014. The women drew up a list of demands which would be put to all the candidates who would be approaching them asking for their votes. The women decided that they would vote only for that candidate who promises to fulfill the people’s demands. The following is the list of demands, drawn up of the residents of Worli BDD chawls. It must be noted that Worli BDD consists of 121 buildings, with each building having 80 houses, hence a total of 9680 houses, and with an average of 6 people per house, nearly 60,000 people. These were built nearly 90 years ago and need to be rebuilt.
- The buildings in Worli BDD, should be rebuilt by the Govt and not by any private developer. Each resident should get a 500 sq feet house after redevelopment here itself. There should be zero maintenance fees. The land cost has risen so high in this part of Mumbai that free land on redevelopment can be sold to the rich to cover the expenses for the above.
- The Government should provide a universal public distribution system, wherein all items of daily consumption, would be available at affordable prices, such as wheat, rice, dal, oil, kerosene, sugar, milk, meat and eggs, clothing, stationery for children etc.
- Every able bodied person should be given employment commensurate with his skills, training and education.
- The Contract system of Labour should be immediately abolished. The minimum wage should be increased to Rs 20,000 per month with a maximum of 8 hours duty.
- On retiring all workers should be guaranteed pension, which should be sufficient for old age people to look after themselves without depending on others including their children.
- Government run schools, a college and a hospital should be started in Worli BDD.
- Currently Worli BDD gets only 2 hours water in the evening everyday. An additional two hours water should be immediately started in the morning hours also. The water is highly contaminated. New water pipelines must be provided.
- All textile workers should be given free housing on the Mill Lands where they worked.
We know that before the elections the candidates make all sorts of promises to the people, promising them even the moon and after the elections they completely forget everything.
So that we are not fooled we demand that the Candidate give in writing on court stamped paper (affidavit) that
- He will fulfill ALL the above demands.
- He will attend regular meetings, say twice in a month, called by the people to ask him what he has done.
- He will behave like a real servant of the people and not as their ruler. At such meetings it is the people who will be in control and the candidate has to answer as to how far he has gone in fulfilling his promises.
- If the people find that he has not carried out his duties , they have the right at such meetings to recall him, that is sack him.
- He will submit to any other punishment that the people will give.
To popularize these demands, the committee members of Lok Raj Sangathan, Worli, decided to carry out a house to house campaign in large numbers on the 6th of April 2014.