Mumbai: Activists see seed of Aarey's destruction in MHADA plan
Fear plan to build houses to rehabilitate tribals, slum dwellers, say will lead to commercial development of Aarey
The Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority's (MHADA) Mumbai board has proposed to construct 26,959 houses in Aarey Milk Colony, to rehabilitate tribals and slum dwellers from the Sanjay Gandhi National Park. While this will eat into 90 acres of Aarey land, the houses are expected to cost Rs 3,500 crore. Activists fear the human settlement will eventually involve heavy infrastructure and commercial development on this space in the near future.
An advertisement was published on Monday calling out bids from developers for the construction of these houses. MHADA wants to construct 2,000 tribal units of ground + one storey each with 300 sq ft carpet area on land admeasuring 43 acres at Aarey, close to the Metro depot. There will also be 24,959 non-tribal units which will be multi-storeyed.
Instead of monetary benefits, the developer will be given development rights which can be used anywhere in the city except Aarey, said MHADA officials. Sanjay Bhagwat, Joint Chief Officer of MHADA's Mumbai board, said, "We are considering ground plus one structures, which will be more like row houses, as the tribal people may not be comfortable living in multi-storey buildings. However the design is yet to be thought of."
"There are 26,959 units for an average of four persons per house which will mean about 1,07,836 people living in the ecosensitive zone, where there has been a severe man-animal conflict. There will be a need for schools, markets, shops etc which will put additional burden on the existing collapsing infrastructure and ruin the ecology. Movement of vehicular traffic will disturb the natural habitat of many animals and hence this should be stopped," said Godfrey Pimenta, from Watchdog Foundation.
"Multi-storeyed buildings will be built under the garb of SRA. No wonder the Metro Depot and station is needed just there. After all, the Metro Depot has always been just an excuse to commercially exploit Aarey," said activist Zoru Bhathena.
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