The shattered houses in Marol have rattled many nerves. Three days after four houses along the Mithi collapsed allegedly due to the work going on at the riverbed, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation yesterday decided to dispatch evacuation notices to the others situated along the riverbank, just to be safe.
Though quick to take the call of asking some 1,500 families to vacate their houses before monsoon, or further disaster, strikes, the corporation has not made rehabilitation arrangements for them. The BMC says it needs to verify if they are legal residents before relocating them, which is not all that swift a process.
Affected residents in Marol in Andheri (East) claim that the houses that caved in on Saturday had been jolted by the rigorous deepening work going on at the river for the past year. Many other houses have acquired huge cracks due to the work, they said. The fate of the four families rendered homeless has sent their neighbours on the edge over what lurks for them if they are not rehabilitated soon enough and the work continues.
The areas of Santosh Compound, Shanti Nagar, Lalji chawl, Ganesh Pada and Mahakali Nagar have most of the houses on the bank, and locals fear they will be the most affected by the work. “Ever since the deepening of the river started at full pelt, the base land in our areas has weakened,” said a local requesting anonymity.
Local are demanding alternative accommodation, claiming they are legal residents and have all the necessary papers with them. They said the administration should take cognisance of the issue. The four families, meanwhile, lost most of their possessions in the collapse incident and are hoping for some aid from the administration, which they have not yet received.
Aarti Wangade, one of those without a roof on her head, said, “Suddenly, the house started shaking. We came out running, and within minutes the walls of our house fell away. We have been residing outside the area. No help has been offered to us. Our names are on the list of legal houses that came out sometime back but we have not been relocated by the BMC.”
The civic administration said the residents would be rehabilitated right after the ward office certifies them as legal. The storm water drain department chief engineer Laxman Vhatkar said, “Around 1,500 structures and the families occupying them are yet to be processed for rehabilitation. Only after their eligibility is validated will the locals be rehabilitated. The verifications and the shifting will be conducted through the collector’s office as well as ours.”