Mumbai: Kalina won't allow MHADA to usurp playground

Updated: Dec 30, 2016, 10:52 IST | Shailesh Bhatia

Locals have started a silent protest demanding that housing authority return the recreational ground it took away in 2005

The transit camp, which stands on the Kalina property meant to be used as a recreational ground for school kids and residents
The transit camp, which stands on the Kalina property meant to be used as a recreational ground for school kids and residents

Fighting for what’s rightfully theirs, the residents of Kalina and Santacruz East have joined forces against the MHADA, demanding that the housing authority return a 793-sqm playground that was taken from them 10 years ago.

Residents have started putting up a banner for two hours every day to garner public support to reclaim the plot
Residents have started putting up a banner for two hours every day to garner public support to reclaim the plot

In 2005, MHADA had taken over land to build a transit camp to house 288 families that were going to be affected by a mega redevelopment project in Sunder Nagar, Kalina.

While the project was completed in 2012, the transit camp still stands in the area, and is now occupied by illegal tenants and commercial establishments, who are renting out rooms to make a quick buck.

mid-day is in possession of a MHADA letter dated April 8, 1991, which states that though the ownership of the plot stays with them, it could be used by schoolchildren from the nearby KES School and the locals as it is a recreation ground. The letter clearly states that no temporary or permanent structure should be built on it.

Clarence Pinto, an active member of an advance locality management (ALM) called Voice of Kalina, informed that as a silent protest they would be putting up a banner for two hours every day to garner public support to reclaim the plot. “After years of running after authorities and procuring relevant documents under the RTI, we finally managed to get the MHADA officials to admit on paper that the area was in fact encroached upon,” said advocate Charles D’Sa, secretary of Vidyanagari ALM, Kalina, who along with other ALM members is fighting to liberate the public playground.

Digamber Panchal, allegedly an original society member, who is still occupying the transit camp, said the vacant flats, admeasuring, 316 sq ft, were now being rented out for as much as R30,000 per month by unknown people.

Madhvi Viraj, deputy chief officer, MHADA said she was aware of the case as it had recently come up for an RTI hearing. “We have guided the applicants to approach the executive engineer from Bandra division to do the needful, as it comes under his jurisdiction and have made appropriate notings on their complaint letter to expedite the process,” she said.

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