MHADA takes hi-tech path to keep tabs on encroachers

Will keep biometric records of occupants and match them with their thumb impressions regularly

Growing wary of an influx of encroachers in its transit camps, the Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (MHADA) has decided to resort to biometrics.

A senior official from the Repair and Reconstruction Board of MHADA on condition of anonymity said, "We are fed up with the increasing cases of encroachment in our transit camps. In order to curb it, we will be keeping records of the people staying in the camps with the help of biometrics. From April, while allotting accommodation to applicants, we would take their thumb impression and their photographs to verify at regular intervals whether the original applicants allotted the houses are staying there."

In Mumbai city and suburbs, there are 54 MHADA transit camps that have a total of 19,500 houses. But MHADA does not have exact data regarding original tenants and encroachers. Many people have entered the transit camps illegally and have been staying there.

A senior MHADA official, requesting anonymity, said, "As per the rough figures we have, there are 8,045 encroachers. However, it is rumoured the original figure of illegal occupants staying in the transit camps may be as high as around 14,000."

Another official said that it is not easy to vacate the illegally occupied houses because in most cases their occupants have the tacit consent and support of local political leaders.

While allotting housing units in the camps from April, MHADA will put a barcode on the application form along with the photo of the applicant. The housing authority will also take thumb impressions of the person to whom the house is allotted.

The authority also allots transit camps on a temporary basis to rehabilitate people from buildings dangerous for habitation. Other than this, old camp buildings are offered to private builders for redevelopment projects.

Since 2010, MHADA has a biometric system in place to maintain attendance records of its employees.

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