Gaothan residents: BMC again trying to usurp our land

Updated: Dec 07, 2019, 07:25 IST | Arita Sarkar | Mumbai

Civic body starts demolishing structures for road widening and storm water drainage project

The civic body has started demolishing structures on the setback land of the gaothans
The civic body has started demolishing structures on the setback land of the gaothans

Concerns over losing a portion of their land have surfaced once again for the residents of the Sherly Rajan Road gaothan with the BMC carrying out demolition work for widening and concretising the road and setting up storm water drains. In February, when the civic body had issued notices to residents asking them to hand over their setback land, they sought help from BJP MLA Ashish Shelar, who had assured them that the old gaothan structures would not be touched. He had also asked the civic officials to ensure that the existing road was developed without taking the setback land. However, the BMC issued another notice in November and started the demolition work on Friday.

The '7-crore project includes widening the 750-metre-long road from its current width that ranges between 8-10 metres to a uniform width of 13.14 metres. The project also includes installation of storm water drains in the area to prevent flooding during monsoon. On Friday, they demolished a number of structures on the setback land. However, residents are of the opinion that the project is not needed in the area.

Not the first time
Anand Iyer, resident of Virgo Villa, said this wasn't the first time for them. "The BMC took over setback land once in the 1980s and then again in 1995. After taking land from two sides, they now want to take more of it. We need the space to park our vehicles," he said. He added that while the original plot was spread over 1,081 square metres, they are left with just 701 square metres now.

Another resident, Elizabeth D'Souza, who has two small shops on her property, alleged that the BMC wants to usurp their land in the name of development. "My husband and I are among the oldest residents of this area. Every six months BMC officials comes and threatens to demolish my legal structures. No flooding happens here and there is no traffic. None of the residents will benefit from this project," she said.

Iyer feels the project was being undertaken to benefit the new complexes. "If the BMC takes away our space, vehicles will have to be parked on the road. This road doesn't face much traffic it's being widened just for the new complexes," he said. Neil Pereira, an activist and member of the Pali Gaothan East Indian Residents Association, said, "The BMC should demolish illegal structures and adjust the road length. The houses belong to the original residents and their property should not be touched."

'It will benefit residents'
Meanhwile, an official from the H-West ward said, "We issued 15 notices to illegal shops and extensions and 20 notices to societies. Of these, we have demolished five shops and taken over setback land from eight societies." He said the work was stopped midway as they were trying to sort out certain issues regarding construction of a drain, which falls on land owned by the Western Railway.

Vinayak Vispute, assistant municipal commissioner of H-West ward, told mid-day, "This project is a part of the development plan. There are flooding issues in the area and for that storm water drains have to be installed. Residents will benefit from it once it is completed."

7010
Area (in sq mt) of setback land left with the gaothans

Rs 7cr
Cost of the entire project

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