Following the recent spate of building collapses -- first in Mumbra, then Mahim and Dahisar -- the City and Industrial Development Corporation of Maharashtra Ltd (CIDCO) took action against more than 10 illegal commercial structures in Kopar Khairane on June 21. The authority had sent evacuation letters to owners of shops near Hanuman Mandir in sector V two days prior to the demolition. A few shop owners moved out, while others stuck around.
However, the CIDCO has put off demolition of illegal residential structures or chawls as people living there would find it difficult to make alternate arrangements especially in the rainy season. Uttam Yadav, controller of unauthorised constructions (CUC) said, “As of now, we are targeting illegal commercial areas and not residential ones, as people will have a problem shifting.”
Nowhere to go
Most of the shop owners are unsure about their fate, as their means of livelihood has been taken away from them. “They are breaking down the shop that I built after a lot of hardships. I wish I could stop them,” said Babu Hanmata Vali, owner of one of the shops that was demolished by CIDCO.
Looking at the condition of these shop owners, residents living in illegal chawls have decided to file for a stay order from the High Court. Most of them have been living in these houses for many years and are scared that they will have no home to come back to.
“They broke down my shop. My husband’s salary won’t be enough to run the house and we will have to find a new means of earning some money,” said another owner.
A senior police officer who was present at the site said “There are a lot of illegal structures in Kopar Khairane and in the next few days we shall demolish as many illegal structures as we can”
The CIDCO plans to build a Municipal Bhandar Ghar at the location where the illegal shops earlier stood.
“I lost my home and my livelihood”
Ram Kumar’s small garage near Hanuman Mandir was razed, rendering him and his family homeless. His shop, where he lived with his family, was brought down when he was away. Upon returning home he found that everything was broken, forcing Kumar and his family to sleep in the passageway of a neighbour’s house.
“This shop was the only means of livelihood that my family had, I have not only lost my shop but also a roof over our heads. I will have to find some other place, where I can build my small shop and more importantly give my family a house, said Kumar.