Mumbai Demands End to Corruption

Residents of Mankhurd, Mumbai came together to protest kerosene price hikes.

Last month, Video Volunteers posted a video on the short supply of kerosene in Mumbai slums, “Slums Affected by Rampant Corruption”, made by Amol Lalzare. Today, Amol shares with us the footage he captured during a rally demanding a stop to these unfair practices.

‘Our demands are that the government must increase the supply of kerosene and decrease the cost of kerosene. The supply of sugar, lentils and oil that we received earlier… must be restored. These are our demands.”

In September, the Women’s Union of Mankhurd, Mumbai, decided that something must be done about the kerosene supply. They held small meetings in various slums and went from door to door, and within a week, a rally was organized comprising 300 angry, restless residents. Women, who are usually the ones in charge of household supplies, were in the majority.

‘Whenever we go to the shops for kerosene, the staff shoves us away, telling us to get in queue. But customers who purchase in black are entertained.’

Kerosene supplied from the black market can cost up to 10 times more than the government subsidized price. With its supply steadily plummeting, though, slum dwellers have no choice but to spend a large part of their salaries purchasing kerosene in black.

The rally that took place in Mankhurd got an immediate response from government officials. This October, residents were able to purchase the original stipulated amount of 12 litres per month for Rs. 175. However, 12 litres of kerosene per month is not enough to feed a family of 4. Amol tells Video Volunteers that he has no choice but to buy more kerosene from the black market. What’s more, he buys kerosene in black from the same shop that he gets his rationed amount from.

‘Black market supply cannot afford to stop as we don’t have enough kerosene. I often wonder, however, that if there is so much kerosene available in the black market, then why is it so difficult to increase rations? Cleary, the government is knee deep in corrupt practices.’ says Amol.

Although there is much to be done, the rally in Mankhurd was very successful. It proved that if people come together to solve their problems, they can never be ignored. Amol has always held a strong belief that one can’t sit and wait for change to take place; one has to get up, mobilize people and make change happen.

-Rajyashri Goody

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