mid-day editorial: Don't break traditions just to build a few flats

Published: Jan 19, 2018, 06:09 IST | mid-day correspondent

Yesterday, this paper ran an extensive report on Worli gaothan locals living in fear of their entire lives getting uprooted by a slum rehabilitation project in their village

Yesterday, this paper ran an extensive report on Worli gaothan locals living in fear of their entire lives getting uprooted by a slum rehabilitation project in their village.

If the project is cleared, they will be classified as slum dwellers and given space in SRA buildings. But many of these locals currently live in sprawling homes of 1,000 square feet or more, and will not even get one-fourth the space in the SRA building. What's shocking fact is that actual slums dwellings on the periphery of these gaothans are being used to misguide and misrepresent the entire gaothan as a slum.

Gaothans are one of the last bastions of an old, indigenous way of community living. While change is inevitable in our fast-paced world there has to be an attempt to balance the new with the old, so that the city can retain its pockets of culture and heritage.

It is unfair that these inhabitants will not only be labelled as slum dwellers, but will also be deprived of their generations-old homes and instead be packed into tiny SRA homes. Slum dwellers, many of whom are encroachers, will be gifted with a home under SRA and the original inhabitants of Mumbai will be deprived of their land? This is hugely unjust.

Commercial development may be the answer, but it should be well-planned and should ensure amenities like open spaces and a community center, so that the locals can carry on the way they have been living. At the very least, their unique tradition should not be wiped out.

We look forward to a progressive but fair policy for gaothans dotted across the city. They face numerous challenges in a fast-paced world, but it is up to the powers that be to find the middle ground.

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