Bed-ridden Thane man battles for a home

Vilas Sonawane, partially paralysed since June, says builder promised him flat under SRD but didn’t deliver; builder says Sonawane wasn't eligible

For the last four years, a Thane resident has been fighting with a local builder to be allotted a flat in a building which stands on the land his where slum used to be. The battle, says Vilas Sonawane’s wife Vandana, has taken such a toll on him, that in June this year the 39-year-old civil works contractor suffered a stroke, leaving the left side of his body paralysed.

Vilas Sonawane’s wife Vandana says relatives have been helping with household expenses since June when he suffered a stroke that left his left side paralysed. (RIGHT) Jaihind Co-operative Housing Society on Khartan Road in which the Sonawanes were promised a home
Vilas Sonawane’s wife Vandana says relatives have been helping with household expenses since June when he suffered a stroke that left his left side paralysed. (below) Jaihind Co-operative Housing Society on Khartan Road in which the Sonawanes were promised a home

Barely managing to speak, Sonawane, who is currently bed-ridden says, in 2006 local builder Mustaq Sheikh offered to redevelop their slum on the Mahatma Phule Nagar Khartan road in Thane East. All 25 residents of the slum agreed.

However, when the construction of the six-storey building, was completed in 2011, Sonawane and his family were the only ones left without a home, with the builder arguing that Sonawane was not eligible under the scheme.

This is true. In 2006 a survey was conducted by the Thane Municipal Corporation’s (TMC) community development department, after which it had released a list of occupants eligible to get a flat under the slum redevelopment scheme (SRD). The list had declared Sonawane and others from his slum as ineligible for rehabilitation. However, since others from his slum have been allotted flat, to him justice has been denied.

Sonawane added that under pressure from civic officials, Sheikh signed an agreement last year promising a flat in his upcoming project near Thane Civil hospital. However, when SUNDAY mid-day visited the sire there were no signs of construction there yet.

That Sonawane was partially paralysed following a stroke in June, has affected the family finances. “My husband has been bed-ridden and does not have a job in hand. We have two children who go to English-medium schools. It is becoming difficult for us manage expenses,” Vandana said, adding that the family has been depending on relatives for household expenses and have not paid school fee since June.

Officials at TMC were vague. D N Waghmare, Deputy Community Development Officer at TMC, said, “If the complainant has forwarded his complaint to the department, then the concerned officials will look in to the matter and reply to them after studying the case in detail.”

And, while Sheikh wasn’t available to speak to SUNDAY mid-day, his brother-in-law Javed Sheikh, argued that not every one from Sonwanae’s slum was provided housing. “Based on the documents provided by these occupants a few have been provided flats in the building. However, we have had an agreement with Sonawane wherein we have promised them a room in one of our upcoming projects in Thane. Also, we have been providing them rent since last year,” Javed said.

One of the residents of the newly-constructed building, Jaihind Co-operative Housing Society, counters this, saying, “only Sonawane hasn’t been allotted a flat and no seems to understand why. None of us faced a problem with the builder.”

Sonawane seems to want his old neighbours back. “We want our share of room at our old address at Khartan road,” he said.

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