Ever wondered why the MHADA is never able to evict illegal encroachers from their lands? The reason is simple, though hard to digest: the housing board has just six engineers in its much-hyped Encroachment Removal Cell to trace and evict encroachers across hundreds of MHADA properties in Mumbai. Worse still, only three of these engineers have been reporting to work regularly. The other three hold additional charges in other departments and are apparently not keen to take on encroachers.
Apart from an executive engineer ,the department has two deputy engineers. One of these deputies also holds an additional charge. There are two junior engineers and again, one of them holds an additional charge. The executive engineer himself holds additional charge of the marketing department. The final member is a clerk. The office, located on the first floor of the MHADA building in Kalanagar, is hardly 300 square foot with six tables. Most of the tables are empty on any given day as the officers have their permanent cabins in some other department.
P Maheshi, the current executive engineer, prefers to sit in his cabin at the marketing department. When asked about the state of the encroachment removal department, he said, “I have just been transferred here and currently, nothing major is happening as far as encroachment is concerned.”
Staff crunch, in fact, seems to plague several departments of MHADA. An officer from the encroachment cell told SMD, “When I joined MHADA nearly 20 years ago, we had 5,000 employees, but the figure now is 1,200. In every department you will find some officer who’s holding an additional charge.”
Another officer from the cell said, “Since the inception of the department in 2005, we have hardly had a full-time executive engineer. In the last two years we have seen three executive engineers and the last engineer stayed only for five months.”
Needless to say, MHADA employees are not happy with the state of affairs. Another officer, who like his colleagues, requested anonymity, said, “MHADA is toothless when it comes to removal of illegal encroachers. They are totally dependant on the BMC and the police to evict encroachers. This is why many officers do not want to be in the cell. Also, since it is an Encroachment Removal Cell and not a full-fledged deparment, many officers hold additional charge.”