Bombay Veterinary College's red tape deprives tribals of water, power, toilets

A simple NOC from the Bombay Veterinary College will be sufficient to allow the 100 tribal families access to basic amenities

While a majority of tribal hamlets in the Aarey Milk Colony are getting electricity connections now, more than 100 tribal families staying at Nanshyacha pada inside the premises of Bombay Veterinary College, adjacent to the Aarey Milk Colony in Goregaon, have no basic facilities, including electricity, water and public toilets. The reason for this is because the college has withheld the No Objection Certificate (NOC) required for getting the amenities.

The tribal hamlet inside the Bombay Veterinary College in Goregaon premises
The tribal hamlet inside the Bombay Veterinary College in Goregaon premises

Tribal leader Ashok Khandve from Shramik Mukti Sanghatna said, “Our tribal people of Nanshyacha pada have been staying here for more than a 100 years now. In the year 1978, the Aarey Dairy Development handed over 101 acres of this land on a lease of 99 years to the Bombay Veterinary College to set up a college. Since then, Nanshyacha pada comes under the jurisdiction of the Bombay Veterinary College campus.”

Deprived
More than 100 tribal families live in this hamlet, but they don’t have basic amenities including water, electricity and toilets. People have to relieve themselves in the forested patch near the padas, which increases chances of human-leopard conflict.

The chances of snakebites are also high. The pada has a population of over 350 people, including several children. Locals claim they get to fill water once every three days, as there is only one water tap connection that has been provided by the veterinary college, from where all families fill water.

Few days ago, Shramik Mukti Sanghatna along with the tribals and local Shiv Sena Corporator Jitendra Valvi organised a protest march. During this march, the representatives met the officials of the veterinary college.

Speaking to mid-day, Valvi said, “Last Friday, we had a meeting with the Bombay Veterinary College authorities and we have told them that if the NOC is not given to the tribals soon, then we will come along with our entire families and stay inside the college premises. The local elected representatives, along with the local MLA are ready to provide amenities to the tribals in Nanshyacha pada and hence, the Bombay Veterinary College should give us an NOC.”

Passing the buck
“In 2007, the Lokayukta had also asked the concerned authorities during a hearing to provide the tribals living in Aarey Milk Colony and Mumbai with water and electricity connections but still, the authorities have failed to provide the same. In our meeting with the Bombay Veterinary College officials, they told us that they don’t have the authority to give an NOC, as the final decision can be only taken by the board members, who sit in Nagpur. If we don’t get the NOC in the coming months, we will protest and this time all the tribals from Mumbai will participate in the protest,” said Ankush Bhoir, another tribal leader.

The other side
mid-day tried contacting authorities from the Bombay Veterinary College, but they remained unavailable for comment.

Voices

Sandip Warthe, resident
We have been staying here since our great grandfather’s time and we have the documents to support our claims. But still, we lack basic amenities. The worst part is that we have to go out in the open to relieve ourselves. The power supply companies and BMC are ready to give us electricity and water connection. However, they want an NOC from the college, which refuses to give it to us.

Sanjay Ambarsade, resident
The illegal slum dwellers get legal electricity connection along with the facility of public toilets, but us tribals, who have been staying here for over a century are lacking basic facilities, which is our right. And all of this is happening because the veterinary college does not give us the NOC which is required for the power and water connection.

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