Mumbai Port Trust demolishes 600 shanties, 10 yrs after encroachment

After two earlier unsuccessful attempts, the Mumbai Port Trust authorities got the entire slum razed to the ground yesterday; police had to lathicharge protesting residents, leaving around 30-35 injured

A decade after slum dwellers built their shanties on land belonging to the Mumbai Port Trust (MbPT), the Trust demolished over 600 hutments at Parjiwala Sai society, Darukhana, yesterday.

Residents protested in front of the authorities as the bulldozer razed their homes
Residents protested in front of the authorities as the bulldozer razed their homes

The situation threatened to spiral out of control as residents went up in arms against eviction, facing lathicharge at the hands of the stationed police force. This was the third attempt by MbPT to get its plot of land at Reay Road cleared. The Trust had earlier attempted to get hold of its land in 2010, and then in May earlier this year.

An hour later, a fire broke out at the other end of the slum patch and was doused by fire officials. Pics/Satyajit Desai
An hour later, a fire broke out at the other end of the slum patch and was doused by fire officials. Pics/Satyajit Desai

Authorities had pasted evacuation notices on the walls of a few huts at around 9.30 pm on November 26. At 10.30 am the next day, the demolition squad, along with the police, came to the spot to begin proceedings.

As the bulldozer revved up, residents protested against the move and gathered around the authorities. Sherbanu Shaikh, who has been residing here for the past 10 years, said, “We have registered meters and ration cards.

We have the copy of our bills given by electricity providers. How can MbPT snatch away our homes overnight?” Residents also said that in 2010, the port authorities had marked their territory with cement pillars and asked them not to overshoot the limits. In May, those who had attempted this infraction had to part with their homes.

There were about 120-150 policemen, who had to work hard to control the mass of people crying injustice. Police had to resort to lathicharging the residents to control the chaos.

Around 30-35 locals were injured and rushed to the nearby KEM and JJ hospitals. To make matters worse, as the demolition progressed at the western end of the slum pocket, a fire broke out at the other end around 11.30 am.

Some 20 fire engines were called in. “The shanties were empty, as everybody had gathered around the authorities. Thankfully, there were no casualties and we successfully controlled the fire,” said a firefighter present at the venue. The demolition was completed by evening, around 6 pm.

MbPT speak
When contacted, MbPT authorities ducked our questions. V R Joglekar, deputy secretary, public relations, said he was in no position to comment. N M Borwankar, MbPT secretary, directed us to Chief Security Officer Ravindra Mane, who completed the circle of evasion and said, “Only Joglekar will be able to share relevant information with you.”

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