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Prakash Ambedkar-led MDF puts Maha CM in the spot over affordable housing for the poor

Maharashtra Democratic Front activists lays siege to Mantralaya demanding homes at cheaper rate in Mumbai

The mystery of the huge convergence of people thronging the Mantralaya on Tuesday and Wednesday with applications for homes that had left the UPA government baffled is over. It has emerged that Maharashtra Democratic Front (MDF) led by RPI leader Prakash Ambedkar was behind this idea.

The Front had put the government on edge by asking party supporters to submit forms for homes built under Powai area development scheme, approved by the state in 1986.

The scheme was devised by MMRDA, as directed by then Congress government, led by Vasantdada Patil. It was a tripartite agreement between the state, MMRDA and titleholders of 230 acres spread across three villages in Powai, whose power of attorney was with Niranjan Hiranandani.

The scheme ran into rough weather when MMRDA had to go for it’s assessment following large scale complaints of violation of agreement terms and conditions.

The authority had slapped Rs 2000 crore penalty, which was reduced to Rs 200 crore in 2008-09. At least three PILs have been pending at Bombay High Court seeking action on the issue.

Thousands of men and women gathered at the Mantralaya and submitted the forms printed by the MDF at Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan’s office on both Tuesday and Wednesday.

The applicants in hundreds, first, appeared at Mantralaya on Tuesday sending the policemen on security into a tizzy.

The officials, caught off guard, had to accept the forms but issued a clarification in the media that there was no such scheme and the applications were fake.

But despite the clarification, a few thousand people gathered at Mantralaya on Wednesday morning when the state cabinet meeting was having its weekly meeting at Sahyadri state guesthouse at Malabar Hill.

The forms printed and distributed by the MDF states that the state government had approved the Powai area development scheme in 1986 with the noble cause to make available poor and needy people homes at cheaper rates.

The 230-acre land allotted for the cause was made available for 40 paisa per acre to Hiranandani Builders. The homes to be built were of 400 sq mtrs and the cost for each home was fixed at Rs 54,000. The applicants claimed that since they didn’t own a house in Mumbai, they should be allotted a flat at the fixed cost. The applicants further went on to state that the allotment would help the government help realize the Congress slogan, “Congress ka haath, aam aadmi ke saath”.

The MDF is a conglomeration of 15 political parties and prominent among them are Bhartiya Republican Paksha led by Ambedkar, CPI (Bhalchandra Kango), CPI-ML (Shyam Gohil), Satyashodhak Party of India, OBC-NT party of India, Lal Nishan Party and others.

Dr Ujwala Jadhav, spokesperson of MDF said the move was for a demand to make available homes to poor and needy people. The state had entered into an agreement with Hiranandanis for construction of affordable homes. But, instead of adhering to conditions the builder constructed big palatial homes and ignored agreement that said homes with 40 and 80 sq meters will be constructed.

Even though the matter is sub-judice, the HC had directed the builder to construct 5000-plus homes as per the terms and conditions of the agreement. The Front claimed that the state government was though ignoring the issue instead implementing it.

Jadhav added that MDF had decided to take up the issue on behalf of people who were forced to vacate their homes in Powai to make way for construction of Hiranandani Garden, since she claimed the state wasn’t ready to speed up the construction of homes.

The MDF had on January 27 organised a morcha in Powai from Kanjurmarg station to Hiranandani Complex.

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