The Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (MHADA) is taking back its spaces. Over a fortnight after mid-day blew the whistle on its 1-acre plot opposite Hypercity in Malad West being gobbled up by slumdwellers, it demolished around 125 encroaching shanties in a massive drive on Tuesday.
After the MHADA workers brought down the shanties, the plot was guarded
To prevent future encroachment, security guards have already been posted on the premises. As an added safety measure, MHADA plans to construct a boundary wall with barbed wires around the plot.
Bharat Jankoli, executive engineer of the Goregaon division of MHADA, said over 150 workers were employed in the demolition drive. “We cleared around 125 hutments. In order to prevent further encroachment, we have removed scrap material and bamboos from the site.”
Activist Shariqe Raza, who has been fighting to protect mangroves and open spaces in Malad and Goregaon, said the mid-day report mounted pressure on MHADA authorities to crack down on the encroachers. “Now that the plot has been cleared of hutments, there should be private security guards posted there 24x7. There are chances that the people who had encroached upon the plot would return,” he cautioned.
The demolition drive was undertaken with the help of police officials.
On May 2, mid-day had revealed that scrap dealers, ragpickers and an auto garage had set up base at the 1-acre land in Malad. The encroachment was the second in as many years. MHADA had demolished over 250 illegal structures on the same plot in 2013. Back then, it had only resorted to putting up tin sheets to fence the plot.