Friday, November 25, 2005

DCR58 - Part IV - Mill maange more

“Aamhi aamchya haathana Mumbai saari vikli” (From an HT article dated 17th August 2005, extract produced below)

"PADMASHRI SHAHIR Sable, balladeer and singer extraordinaire, is 83 years old. The son of a mill worker and a mill worker himself for a couple of years, Sable's early and later ballads are a mirror of what has happened to Girangaon (mill land) in the last four decades. His Mumbavatichi laavni written in 1967 is a paean to the city he loves, every landmark lovingly described. In 2001 he composed and sang a different tune--despairing and cynical. Here is the opening: Marathicha malvaat poosla rahili tikli/Aamhi aamchya haathana Mumbai saari vikli. (The kumkum of Marathi so proudly applied across the forehead has dwindled into an insignificant dot/With our own hands we have sold the whole of Mumbai)."

Today’s blog runs you through some key points of the respondent arguments.

Mill maange more: No development activity took place under the old DCR58 since it restricted the amount of land available to the mill-owner. Hence, the State Government specifically excluded post-demolition lands from the definition of “open lands” to make it more attractive for the owners and thereby kick-start development work. (Also refer the last point on the workers view)

Wasted time: What was the BEAG doing for four years (2001-2005) before filing its PIL? There are enough case laws stating that cases can be dismissed if filed too late.

Letter of the law: The amended DCR58 is not unconstitutional since it followed the due process of law, is in line with the spirit of the law and is not unjust towards anyone class of people.

Quit messing around: The Courts should not interfere with legislative matters and Government decisions.

Too much at stake: Bombay Dyeing estimates the dues of the mills at Rs6,696crores, with key components as follows -

For 2005(Rs cr)
To financial institutions2,997
All other statutory liabilities1,828
To workers1,201
To banks366
Additional statutory dues88

And finally the workers view: An eye-opener to me, so I am going to detail it a bit more. The workers union “Girni Kamgar Sangharsh Samiti” (GKSS) questions the first point above that no development happened for 10 years. It states that Phoenix Mills first fudged accounts to approve “recreation facilities” (incl. bowling alleys, sauna and steam, etc.) for its 1,200 employees which it then fired, obtained BMC approval and built new commercial structures.

Workers dues form a small proportion of money raised from sale of land. For example, Mafatlal was supposed to get Rs16cr from sale of 8th floor of Mafatlal Centre and Rs200cr from the built-up of Mafatlal Centre at Parel. And what were the legal dues of workers? Rs93cr.

In any case, workers interests were seriously hampered since (a) Laws were broken and money was siphoned off as no employment was given to the 3,000 workers who were fired and no training given to workers even though portion of funds was to be used for this and (b) Mill owners like Mafatlal, Hindustan and Piramal, first applied for redevelopment of their mills and then promptly shut them down.

Finally The GKSS believes that since the State Govt and BMC failed to fully and correctly disclose facts (like extent of textile land, rents being paid for those lands on leasehold), the Govt (I'm assuming Central Govt) should immediately take over this land use it for public housing.

My concluding blog will be on the High Court verdict