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'Political worker looted us after promising houses'

Slum dwellers from Mundhwa claim Subhash Sarode collected Rs 1,000 from each of them as booking amount about a year ago; however, civic body says no housing project has been approved in the area

Claiming to be Congress party’s secretary for ward number 44 in Bhimnagar, Subhash Sarode collected Rs 1,000 from residents of Mundhwa and Ghorpadi Gaon, promising them permanent residences at the edge of the canal in Shinde basti near Hadapsar Industrial Area. According to locals, Sarode collected the sum from them as booking amount in February last year and promised them that they would get their own house by the month of November.


Home truths: The land where the houses were supposed to come up

However, when the residents did not get their houses even in the new year, they realised that they might have been cheated by Sarode. The inhabitants then approached a local social worker Ratan Tadke.

Hopes dashed
“We are six family members living in a small tin shed room. We were overjoyed when the dream of having our own house seemed to be coming true. However, even after almost a year of paying Rs 1,000 to Sarode the dream remains unrealised,” said Rashida Shaikh, a resident of Shivdas Colony slum in Ghorpadi Gaon. Shaikh’s son works on daily wages, and it was tough for the family to collect the amount necessary to book their own house.

Surprisingly, no one from whom Sarode has taken money asked him to show the plot where the houses were to be built. “He told us that it was municipal corporation’s land. Sarode promised to give us 10x12 square feet dwellings, and assured to also build a temple for us,” said Lata Wadar, resident of Taradatta Colony in Ghorpadi Gaon. Wadar said that although she has her own house, her brother-in-law stays there on rent, and she paid Rs 1,000 to Sarode, so her kin would get their own house.


A slum dweller shows a receipt for the Rs 1,000. Pics/Krunal Gosavi

Parvati Saple, who works as a guardian of a bungalow in Taradatta Colony, said, “Sarode called a few meetings and told us that they (people who paid the money) would not have to worry and they would get their own houses. I don’t know the current status and I am worried about my money, which I spent to book a house.”

No project approved
When MiD DAY contacted assistant commissioner of Kondhwa-Wanowrie ward office, Sukumar Patil, he said that the civic administration would not allow anyone to build any kind of dwelling without its permission. “People should be aware that if PMC wants to develop any scheme, it gives prior notice and advertisements through various newspapers. We have not allowed any housing project on the edge of canal near Hadapsar Industrial Area, and people should not fall prey to false promises,” Patil said.

However, Sarode maintained that his intentions were genuine and he wanted to provide permanent houses to slum dwellers. “Slums are never built by taking permission and there is no any need to take permission of PMC even to build the rooms for homeless people near canal of Shinde basti,” said Sarode. When asked why he took the money from the people when he wanted to help the poor people, he said that he has taken the money to fulfill the expenditure of banners, fuel and so on. He, however, could not give satisfactory answers on when the houses would be built.

Police unconcerned
Cops, though, seem unconcerned about the matter. When approached, PSI Digambar Kopare of Mundhwa police chowky said that unless people provide a written complaint no action would be taken against Saqrode. However, cops have reportedly done an inquiry against Sarode based on the verbal complaint of local residents, and then let him off.

‘Congress has nothing to do with this’

Congress city chief Abhay Chhajed said that although Sarode is a party bearer, the party has nothing to do with his personal activities. Chhajed assured to look into the matter and said that Sarode must have demanded money by mentioning the name of some other organisation.

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