Pad.ma 2009: Ghar Banao Ghar Bachao (GBGB) Andolan
Duration: 00:36:53; Aspect Ratio: 1.778:1; Hue: 201.608; Saturation: 0.109; Lightness: 0.263; Volume: 0.195; Cuts per Minute: 7.888; Words per Minute: 106.415
Ghar Bachao, Ghar Banao (GBGB) Andolan is an organisation that has been working on housing rights, particularly against corporate privatisation. The pad.ma presentation was made by Simpreet Singh, a Production Engineer and TISS post-graduate who has been working full-time with the GBGB Andolan since 2005 and Ruchi Kumar, a second-year student of Tata Institute of Social Sciences who is doing her field work with the Andolan.
GBGB took existing footage in pad.ma, 'A Day in the Life of Niranjan Hiranandani', and re-read it against information that they have been collecting for a few years (through the use of RTI as well as investigative journalism). The grandiose vision of Hiranandani's construction business is read against the material conditions of housing for the poor, while his statements of corporate responsibility are read against the corrupt practices prevalent in the real estate industry In a playful manner, GBGB fills in certain narratives of images through sharp political satire. http://pad.ma/EV/N
Ghar Bachao Ghar Banao Andolan is a social movement of slum dwellers and unorganised sector workers. The Andolan was initiated to challenge the inhuman and unconstitutional demolitions of more than 75,000 houses by the Government of Maharashtra in 2004. The movement, under the leadership of women, adopts non-violence as a value framework. The Andolan is affiliated with NAPM (National Alliance of People's Movements).
For a report on the event, see http://camputer.org/event.php?id=75
Shaina: Did anybody notice there was a presentation missing earlier? The aptly titled GBGB Andolan - Ghar Bachao, Ghar Banao Andolan. Ruchi will explain why we had to reschedule, and will also explain why one of them is missing.
Ghar Bachao, Ghar Banao Andolan - a social movement of slum dwellers and unorganised sector workers and hawkers. The 'andolan' initiated in resistance and challenged the inhuman and unconstitutional demolitions of more than 75,000 houses by the government of Maharashtra in 2004.
Ruchi: Good evening everybody. Basically, as of this moment, I'm feeling like a standard 5 student who is showcasing her volcano experiment in front of you...big scientists.
(laughter from audience)
Ruchi: So, please bear with me, if I make any mistakes. First of all, let me explain what our project was. We have been working with slum-dwellers in Bombay. Our approach is basically - we believe that housing is a right, irrespective of what that person earns or is in life actually. It's not as if, if I'm a labourer - because it is devalued by certain market laws, it doesn't mean I don't have the right to exist. This is where we come from.
Ruchi: So we've been kind of exposing various real estate and land scams through the use of Right to Information. And interestingly, while we were working on Niranjan Hiranandani and his Powai Gardens project, we came across this footage in Pad.ma, through a conversation and we kind of thought of this whole idea of creating 2 characters in conversation - Niranjan Hiranandani as the man on screen who is saying and doing things throughout the day, and we are the kind of invisible character on the side, which kind of pops in thought bubbles and says, "Aha! You say that, but this is what I know, because I got it through Right to Information."
Ruchi: Why Niranjan Hiranandani would be a valid question. Basically, Niranjan Hiranandani is the icon of builders in Bombay. He is the 'holier-than-thou'... larger-than-life... he has an image like that, because he has a lot of hospitals and schools and charity work going on. Other than that, he is more powerful... larger than most other builders in Bombay.
Ruchi: So when you do a case study of real estate, I think he is the person who is most appropriate. And I would also like to mention that this is not a personal attack on him. Basically, if you want to understand this whole thing, he is appropriate, and so we did this whole thing.
(laughter and an inaudible comment from an audience member)
Ruchi: Basically, we were very excited about this whole footage because, usually documentaries tend to focus on the struggles of the oppressed. You know, we never really get to hear the people who are actually party to this whole thing.
Ruchi: So when Niranjan Hiranandani comes out of his car and talks about his day and what he does, and we comment on that - it really thrilled us. Finally, this footage - we're basically seeing it as a research medium. We believe that there are multiple realities in every event, and Niranjan has his own, and we have ours. So when a researcher visits this website, he needs to be shown both pictures - something that he has to say, and something that we have brought up through the annotations on this page. So, let me begin with the first one...
(clip on Padma: http://pad.ma/EV
(Ruchi waits for the image on screen to play...the video begins with a clip of Niranjan Hiranandani talking on a cell phone with a popular sky scraper in the background)
Ruchi: I have a quote for you here while this is playing - it's kind of my favourite.
Ruchi quotes - "I am the captain of this ship. You are welcome to swab the decks and polish the brass, and I will pay you. But there is no way you can live here. You have to spend the night overboard swimming the shark-infested seas. If you're still here tomorrow morning, report at eight for another day's work. Don't be late, because there are a dozen eager other people ready to take your place at even lower wages."
Ruchi: This is the kind of framework that the informal sector workers are operating in today. This footage is basically taken out to show how - you know he's surrounded by these hoards of security workers who salute him.
Ruchi: It would be interesting to note that 54% of Mumbai population lives in slums, and the area that they occupy is hardly 10%. So when you have all these stories going around, about slum dwellers basically encroaching this whole city and becoming constraints on the city infrastructure - there is what you have, as statistics.
Ruchi: Can we have the next one? Need the sound for this one...
NH in video: I think a lot of things get done because you have this... equipment.
Who are We hall, Nehru Centre, Worli
Ruchi: So this shot - basically I found it interesting because, I don't know if you noticed that there was a bulldozer going in the background of the scene. And then he says, "We have the equipment to get things done."- This is what - what really happens is the builder-mafia-politician nexus, because they are so hand-in-glove with each other, they easily command the rules and modes of demolition.
Ruchi: This is what happened in Mandala (a basti in Mankhurd, where GBGB is active), in 2004 right after the elections. We are trying to show the 'equipment' that was used to get things done. The area was cleared to basically grab land in Mandala, so that it could be given to private developers.
This kind of looks like a war scene, but it was basically a slum in Mankhurd. You can see the kind of back-up that builders have when they come to grab land. Those are journalists.
Ruchi: Ya, the next one please....
(some discsussion in background regarding the clip to be played...)
Ruchi: Anybody familiar with Bombay would be knowing the history of mill workers; it's quite integral, and it's quite painful towards the end - what happened when all these mills shut down - the footage is...the Lalbaug area.)
NH in video clip: ...it's one of the holiday seasons otherwise this whole place is packs up by traffic. The whole road is packed up with traffic, full.
SA in video clip: At this hour?
NH in video clip: At this hour. But because the schools are closed, as well as people have left for holidays.
SA in video clip: For gaon...(village)
NH in video clip: Actually the travel is not really fully representative.
Ruchi: When he says that travel is not fully representative and people have gone out for holidays, we interpreted it as the mill workers who have lost employment and have now gone away from that area.
Ruchi: Basically...when mill lands were sold, it led to a lot of scams in land grabbing. For example, there was Jupiter mills and the Indiabulls deal, where property worth 4,500 crores was acquired for only 450 crores. Not a penny went to the workers who lost their employment; they are still struggling. The women had to face a lot of hardship.
Ruchi: You will find it on the screen, so I'm not going into details. What happened with all this land? It was basically converted into malls, shopping complexes and offices for corporates, instead of making low-cost housing, which it was really meant to be.
So this one is interesting...
Ruchi: This is Niranjan Hiranandani walking through his office. He has this concept of not asking people to come to his desk with files. Instead he goes to them and signs papers, so that, you know, you don't have to keep backups and all of that. This is what he calls 'management by walking'.
Ruchi: What we found was - on April 8, 2008, the CBI raided offices of Niranjan Hiranandani and five of his group companies - companies in his group, along with several (?)officials because what this sweet man had done was - 168 crore worth scam where he did not deposit employees' provident fund money with the government.
Ruchi: So basically, see, he's interacting with all his employees, he's smiling and encouraging them, having conversation with them. But at the back of his mind, he's just siphoned off 168 crores - I mean, how fair can you get?!
Sanjay Bhangar: Ashok, now I'm way faster...
(audience giggles...video on screen playing in fast forward clips of Niranjan Hiranandani walking through his office...)
Ruchi: This was his entire walk through his office.
Interestingly, because Mr. Niranjan Hiranandani is a very good host also, so when the CBI raided his premises, they also found 23 bottles of foreign liquor which were sealed, and a case has been filed at the Excise Act.
(clip plays in fast-forward)
(On the screen now is a close up of a newspaper article with headline 'Hiranandanis PF officials raided by CBI')
Ruchi: These are the newspaper clips that came out ...(?) Hiranandani.
((article with headline 'PF team winked at firm's default:CBI'))
Ruchi: All these events are not in chronological order, basically because we are working by...(inaudible)...
Sanjay Bhangar: Should I just play it off the site?
Sanjay Bhangar: I don't have sound...
Shaina: No that was some (?), his keyboard has frozen.
Sanjay Bhangar: Proprietary software!
Sanjay Bhangar: OK, the video froze on the site at the exact same time.
Ashok: Proprietary operator!
(audience laughs, some more)
Ruchi: What is happening here is, Mr. Niranjan Hiranandani is with his intern, and his intern has developed a fancy new project for some more land and he is explaining it to him on these colorful maps.
(clip shows exchange between Mr. N's intern and Mr. N.)
Intern: ...this is the first one. Lets say if we want to do an exclusive country club, with bare minimum plots, nothing hyper-architectural, just two acres. So then what happens is that this our total cost of development and evaluation for....
Intern: ...our basic costing would be. This forest what you had said, this would be the most exclusive ones with this 50 acre pocket of the...
NH: You realise... the new- new- new- high values.
Intern: No, actually we don't need to market it for a smaller cause. We can just take it high value, give pocket which is technically, nevertheless. But this what it comes down to. Net profit.
NH: ...saw the difference.
Intern: Ya, and upon that we have a niche client. We are not gunning for the basic market.
NH: And the numbers you have to deal with are?
Intern: It's much minimal, and those are people... I mean, that's... See here we are selling 254 (acres), so all the basic tenants would not be more than 150.
Intern: This looks more attractive. This we can develop it as sort of an address for people. You develop it as an, thing which people would want to come to. I mean, within the social circle.
NH: Correct. I think now you are coming to the correct...optimum value.
Ruchi: Clever businessman,...or what shall we say?
Ruchi: Basically the land that is being discussed is meant for low-cost housing. So when he talks about who is your neighbour, I really don't know what to say. Another thing was, the lands that he was discussing were those lands which are in Raigadh. And Raigadh has seen its own share of struggles, with respect to other land-grab scams. For example with Maha (Mumbai) SEZ and Reliance coming into the picture.
(Ruchi gestures to play the next clip.)
Ruchi: We are going to see 'Show flats', the ones in Powai. So now you come to a fancy place in Bombay.
(Clip showing us insides of a recently-built flat.)
(On screen is the silhouette image of someone reclining in a chair, in front of a curtained window.)
Ruchi: That is Sanjay.
(inaudible comments amongst people in the audience)
Ruchi: Fancy flat. What happened here is, Niranjan Hiranandani was to develop houses which were 40 square metres or 80 square metres for low-cost housing. EWS (Economically Weaker Section) and N(??) housing.
Ruchi: But what he's done is, amalgamated them, and made larger flats of 200-400 square metres. So, what we were trying to visualize here is, when you roam around this flat, its actually the space that was meant to be occupied by 10 families at least, if it had been put to the use that it was originally meant for. So you could have had 10 kitchens, and you could have had 10 tables where children were studying ...its not happening anymore.
Ruchi: This is a silent shot of the area around Powai. Why we found this interesting was, because it affected the situation of these lands in Mumbai. This area is leased as is a lot of other land. Strangely enough, the suburban collector leases this out at a rate of Rs.106 per square metre, instead of the market rate of 1700 per square metre.
Ruchi: Which means that every year, the state exchequer is losing something around 48 crores. What happens also is, most of this land, a lot of this land is expired. So a person who is continuing to stay on is actually an encroacher. But would you say so? And would you go and (?).. person who is in the fancy flat, and say "Hey you're an encroacher!", and not the slum dwellers, who we've keep pointing fingers at all the time?
This report was made available by Shree Sailesh Gandhi, through RTI reports, he's an RTI activist.
This is a table which shows the situation, and because I can't see it from here, ...
That's where I'll put the figures.....
NH: So then meet the minister's PA....what's his name....Chopra...Chopra...))
Ruchi: Here we've put in a Bollywood sequence of ministers (?)...and then there is a closed door and there is a closed-door meeting going on. And we are kind of thinking aloud about what might have happened in the meeting- we don't really know.
((On screen: Nilanjan Hiranandani in the outdoors, saying "We get to see the product(?)"))
Ruchi: So what we thought was- MMRDA had recommended that all the 230 acres of land, leased out to Mr. Hiranandani for the Powai project, should be taken back because of gross violations of its use on February 14, 2008- that's a very good Valentine's day gift. But what happened after this meeting, as we think, was on 31st March, 2008, Shree Vilasrao Deshmukh canceled this order and substituted it by signing up a meagre amount of Rs 3 crores. So I think the conversation with ministers...(?)
NH: You get to see a product which is definitely different. ..(?) because the first large mixed township in India of its kind. Nobody has dared to do it...residential, commercial, retail, entertainment, and everything put together, and really make it work. So we were definitely challenged by the fact that we thought that mixed land use(?) township would work in the country. And we set up the first large one. And the country has just exploded by copying our idea. So we have now thousands and thousands of examples of what it may look like.))
Ruchi: That is a news clip that will show you what happened next. Basically, on 19th November, 1986, there was a tripartite agreement between the Government of Maharashtra, MMRDA, and Hiranandani developers, which basically leaves out just 230 acres for the low-cost housing that I described earlier. What Mr. Hiranandani has done is to develop it with mixed land use as he was proudly proclaiming.
Ruchi: This is a table that describes the MMRDA recommendation given to Shree P. Benjamin, wherein the break up of the fine is given. You saw the news article about the 2,000 crore fine to be recommended by MMRDA. Because of 3 violations, the first, the second and the third I have highlighted in yellow- the total comes out to 1993 blah blah blah... Looks like mobile numbers, but its not.
(Link to video
(video plays: NH continues talking...)
((NH: You know I have 100 acres of gardens and forest in Powai. That's why. So you just go from garden to garden, and at the back of this hill, we have 40 acres of forest. Taken government land and just forested.
NH: ....saying why did I become....))
Ruchi: Here he was talking about being so eco-friendly. We have a notice from the Maharashtra Polution Control Board, which gave a stop-all notice to- because this all was in violation with the the rules and regulations. And interestingly the mandators under this act have ordered a jail sentence of a minimum of 5 years. But I don't think that's happening now.
NH:...the wonderful thing was the fact that we were able to get most things right. It may not have been the first time, but we've got most of the things right over a period of time. Basically I was part of the committee for slum redevelopment, the (?) committee, which actually decided how redevelopment should take place. I sat on advising the location of flyovers in Mumbai. All these opportunities I did advise to the government of India on National housing policy. So all these things made a lot of difference because of my various interests in various aspects of social and community projects.
Ruchi: Basically when he mentions SRA, I tried to bring in the S.S.Tinaikar report. Mr.S.S.Tinaikar was the former municipal commissioner of Mumbai. He brought out a report in August 2001, which has described the SRA scheme as 'Of the builders, by the builders, for the builders'.
I'm giving you the link....for more details.
Riddhima: And you said you were involved in.... SRA schemes, but you are not looking in to getting into them directly?
NH: No we did a joint venture to take up ...(???).
SA: But you wouldn't get into (?) low cost housing and SRA?
NH: We are keen. We had in fact announced a company to make low cost housing. We couldn't take it off, because it's a question of acquisition of land. We don't get land for low cost housing. Until you don't get land there no point in talking about low cost housing.
Riddhima: And do you see that changing with this Urban Land Ceiling Act?
NH: We've been waiting for the scrapping of the Urban Land Ceiling Act for a long time. But till it doesn't happen we wont be able to get the benefits of it. It takes a long time,
SA: But what about mill lands? What is your take on it?
NH: It's great I think. It's a wonderful thing that you are getting so much housing irrespective of the pricing, that actually, ultimately so much housing is getting created and somebody is buying it. So at the end of the day, remember, as long as somebody is buying it but then it... In that respect, even slums there's nothing wrong because people are living there. So if government can't provide affordable housing, what can people do, they have to live wherever they can, authorised or unauthorised.))
Ruchi: Basically there are 2 things that he mentions here: one is that he is lamenting the fact that land is not available for low-cost housing. So I mentioned the tripartite agreement earlier. Would anybody care to guess what he got land for in that agreement?
Ruchi: -OK. It was 40 paise per acre for 80 years. If that is not affordable, I don't know what is. Another thing- he mentions the Urban Land Ceiling Act. I have some trivia for you- 91 individuals in Bombay own 55% of its land. That means more than 15,000 acres of land here are being held in violation of the Urban Land Ceiling-Regulation Act. Now what has happened is Maharashtra has gone ahead and repealed this act under the JNURM. So what happens is effectively you and I have no legal safeguards which would ensure that you and I can buy houses without doing things that we really wouldn't want to do otherwise.
Ruchi: What else?- Godrej has 2,500 acres of land. I've put in some tables, if you are interested you can probably go through it. (?) has 85 acres. Dinshaw trust has 800 acres. So when you see the situation of poor housing in Bombay, its not really for poor people.
Ruchi: These are some news clips that emphasize what we have already been saying. Ok- this...the previous clip was interesting for us because this was edited by Ranu Bose(?). So that was how we managed to get this heading thing- otherwise you know, politically correct people will not have allowed this- 'It's the builders, stupid!'
(( -News clips with headlines-
'Bungling BMC 'gifts' a Rs 160-cr plot to builder'
'Is MHADA ignoring LIG hsg scheme?'))
((NH: What you need to do is create, maybe an island in the sea, maybe an airport in the sea, or something drastic.
NH: You really need to do something at the macro level. There's no point in talking about doing small and one industry building doing something or not. I think what we really need is a great project, and then it'll make a great change.
SA: You always stick with Hafeez?
NH: No. Hafeez is a favourite, but we have other architects too, yes. ))
Ruchi: In this clip we were trying to focus on his earlier statement about a project (?) Another thing he also talks about is being able to create geography instead of history, which is also very true- Powai stands out in the urban landscape as a very different project.
When he speaks about Hafeez Contractor, its interesting to note that a lot of the scams that we have revealed, have incidentally, Mr.Hafeez as one of the partners, including Atria mall....a lot of these.
What we tried to bring out was the unholy alliance between builders, architects, (?) - they're in the same hands in so many projects, and its going on and on...we're trying to stop it!!
Shaina: Sanj, can you just query 'geography'?
Sanj: In this video or the entire archive?
Shaina: Ya..this video.
Ruchi: ...(??)...Powaii scam...TV9 7 years back
(Hindi clip exposing Hiranandani's low-cost housing scam, on land he bought @ 40paise per acre.)
Shaina: Its important to mention that that news report was 7 days old.
Ruchi: Basically, we are in the middle of this PIL, filed by Medha Tai Patkar and 3 other parties which are challenging this in court and we had a hearing. Currently Hiranandani has been asked to give a response to all this- the land use violation- within 10 days.
Shaina: There's one last clip.
Ruchi: We couldn't resist a little drama.
((On screen, NH walking through his office.))
Ruchi: So this is where we end, we are kind of on his tails right now, and he is walking away. (?) get an answer or not. .
Thank you so much for listening to me...
Ruchi: There is another bit of good news that I would like to share- Simpreet is not here today because...incidentally because of Hiranandani.
Ruchi: What we had done last year December, was to give- December 2007- was to give the Maharashtra state government a cheque for Rs.2000... which was basically asking him to give us 50 acres of land at 4 rupees per acre. That is 100 times what Niranjan Hiranandani paid the government.
Ruchi: And we said, since we can afford the land at hundred times the price, so let's take it for hundred times the price. And...so...that project has been..there has been some progress from the centre. And today the MMRDA chief engineer is going to visit the site. So Simpreet has gone with him. That's why he's not here. So its kind of a small victory for us.
Shaina: Can we round up with all of us coming a little closer together and think about...a little about future plans, if there are ideas or comments...also for the last 4 presentations which - last 5 rather,... We can just sit around in a circle and we'll...I think discussions are important, its 8:10. We can chat till 8:30. I think we're still OK. We've got half an hour.