Scrap dealers, ragpickers and auto garage have set up base at 1-acre land in Malad; activists and locals say some 50 tenements have come up
The Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (MHADA) is in for a spot of nasty déjà vu.
Encroachments at the 1-acre plot of MHADA in Malad. Pic/Satej Shinde
At a time when it is ruing a shrunk land bank for affordable houses, a plot it owns in Malad West, spanning across 1 acre, has allegedly been encroached upon by slumdwellers — for the second time in as many years. MHADA had demolished over 250 illegal structures from the same plot in 2013.
Shariqe Raza, an activist who has been fighting to protect mangroves and open spaces in Malad and Goregaon, alleged that at the plot opposite HyperCITY, MHADA had erected tin sheets and a warning board to keep trespassers out. “But in just two years, more than 50 huts have come up on the land again. More will mushroom if officials don’t act on the encroachment.”
During a site visit last Saturday, mid-day found that tin sheets on the land adjacent to the link road in Goregaon West had been removed. Scrap dealers, a ragpickers’ team and a small automobile repair shop have set up base in their place.
A resident from Malad said if the plot is recovered from the clutches of land-grabbers, MHADA can use it for its affordable housing scheme.
A MHADA official said such a plan is implemented, around 5,000 houses can be built on the land.
In 2013, MHADA had said it had 65 such open spaces in Mumbai where affordable houses can be constructed, and that it planned to conduct a survey and thereafter undertake more demolitions to recover land. That plan slowly fizzled out.
MHADA CEO and vice-president SS Zende was unavailable for comments. But another MHADA official said officials haven’t been able to keep tabs on encroachments due to a staff crunch.
“At times, we don’t get manpower from the BMC or police protection to clear illegal slums. Structures at the Malad MHADA plot were demolished two years ago. We will immediately look into the new encroachment.”