Slum dwellers of Malad, who have been demonstrating over a fortnight on the Western Express Highway, threatened to intensify their agitation if their demand of accommodation for those who lived on upper floors of shanties under states Slum Rehabilitation Authority (SRA) scheme, is not met.
Maharashtra Slum Areas (Improvement, Clearance and Redevelopment) Act, under which SRA is established, does not have provision to rehabilitate dwellers who lived or living on the upper floors (loft) in slums.
The protesters, residents of Janu Bhoy Nagar in Malad, had evacuated their homes (shanties) in 2013 and were to be rehabilitated under redevelopment scheme.
According to agitators, builder – Omkar Developers – had promised to rehabilitate all tenants, including those living on the upper floors. They also received rent amount for two subsequent years.
Dwellers, who lived on upper floors, claim that they have been declined accommodation under the scheme, while most of them have been rehabilitated and have got flats.
Dilip Sodhakar, one of the dwellers, said, “Before making agreement with us, the builder promised to give us flats, irrespective of whether we are living on the ground or the upper floor. We have also been not paid rent (money) for last one year.”
The builder, Omkar Developers, on the other hand, said the protesting tenants are being provoked by some people who have vested interest and that there is no such provision to rehabilitate those living on the upper floors.
“We have rehabilitated thousands of slum dwellers. But in this case, some people with vested interest are provoking the gullible tenants despite knowing the rules,” Rajeev Agrawal, head of property affairs of Omkar Developers, said.
Meanwhile, Minister of State for Housing, Ravindra Waikar said that a comptent authority has been set up to look into such cases.
“We have launched a survey under a competent authority in Mumbai and neighbouring Thane district. It will look into such cases and rectify whether people living on the upper floors can be accommodated in under the scheme. Currently, there is no rule to rehabilitate them,” said Waikar.
The issue hotted up last week when Mumbai BJP unit vice president Mohit Kamboj came out in support of the protesters and demanded rehabilitation for them.