We can't find any tribal houses on Google Earth: BMC consultant

This is the bizarre reason a BMC-appointed consultant gave for not making any mention of tribals living inside Aarey Colony in the development plan 2034; civic body had been including tribals in its annual budgets earlier

Civic authorities have cited a bizarre reason for ignoring tribals while preparing the development plan (DP) of the city for the next 20 years they cannot find any tribal houses on Google Earth.

The tribals have been staying in adivasi padas inside the Aarey Milk Colony for over a hundred years
The tribals have been staying in adivasi padas inside the Aarey Milk Colony for over a hundred years

The consultant who helped the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) prepare the DP claims the state government will conduct a survey to gather information about these adivasi padas and they would then include them in their DP.

The BMC has received much censure and flak for making absolutely no mention of tribals residing inside Aarey Milk Colony in its draft DP until the year 2034. The civic body has, however, identified Aarey Milk Colony as a future growth hub where educational institutes and commercial structures can be developed.

There are 27 adivasi padas tribal hamlets inside the colony and residents of these padas have been living there for over a century.

Asked how they had ignored this indigenous population, Vidyadhar Phatak, an independent urban consultant who helped the BMC prepare the draft DP, claimed, “It was difficult to do a survey in Aarey’s adivasi padas because we don’t have any proper map. Even Google Earth is not able to show their houses.”

The civic body has not yet attempted any survey in these areas, and residents have, for long, complained of apathy on part of authorities in providing even basic amenities like electricity and water.

‘Survey planned’
Phatak passed the buck to the state government for the survey. “The state government will form a team to conduct a proper survey of tribals. This information will then be used to make a separate section (for the tribals) in the DP,” Phatak added.

This contention seems rather strange, especially when the civic body itself has made budgetary provisions in its mammoth annual budget to provide amenities to tribals. Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis was also forced to constitute a committee to find alternate sites for the Metro car depot, which had earlier been planned inside Aarey Milk Colony.

Resident speak

Chandu Jadhav, a tribal who has been staying in Aarey Colony for more than 60 years
How can the BMC ignore tribals staying in Aarey for more than 100 years? This proves the authorities are least interested in the tribals’ problems. This reason that they are not able to locate our houses through Google Earth is really strange. Authorities should conduct a proper ground survey

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