Mumbai: After Aarey, Mahul residents expecting relief from CM Uddhav Thackeray
3,500 families counting on Uddhav Thackeray to intervene on their behalf and provide relief, just as he did with Aarey forest
Following Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray’s stay on the construction of the Metro car shed project inside the Aarey forest, Mahul residents are hoping the new CM comes to their rescue too. As with Aarey, Shiv Sena had lent its support to the Mahul residents’ protest.
Built by the BMC, Mahul is currently home to 3,500 families who have been rehabilitated here under the government’s Project Affected People (PAP) scheme. The resettlement colony is surrounded by chemical factories and oil refineries. In September, the Bombay High Court expressed shock at the living conditions and directed the government to assess the pollution levels in Mahul. The colony has 72 buildings with 7,200 homes. Of these, BMC had allotted 5,500 homes to PAP.
The High Court had also prohibited the BMC from shifting any more families to Mahul and directed it to deposit R15,000 per month as rent and R45,000 as refundable deposit in the bank accounts of the PAP within 12 weeks. This deadline will end on December 16. Following the order, the 3,500 residents had applied to relocate. However, the BMC approached the Supreme Court pleading that it would cost the civic body R100 crore a year for rent and an additional Rs 25 crore for the refundable deposits. The Supreme Court will hear the matter on December 3.
Even as Mahul residents prepare for the Supreme Court hearing on Monday, they are seeking the new chief minister’s intervention. Bilal Khan, an activist from Mahul’s Ghar Bachao, Ghar Banao Aandolan said, “Aaditya Thackeray had talked about the grave situation in Mahul and the MHADA President, Uday Samant had agreed to transfer 300 families from Mahul. But the BMC has denied it. Now with the Sena coming to power, we are expecting that our issues will also be resolved like Aarey.” He added that they are looking forward to meeting Aaditya to update him on the issue.
Anita Dhole, a resident of Mahul and a petitioner in the case, said, “There are thousands of vacant homes in the city. Yet, despite the High Court’s order, the BMC isn’t ready to give us alternate accommodation.” A BMC officer, on condition of anonymity, said, “BMC cannot spend so much of the taxpayer’s money. Apart from the fact that the infrastructure built in Mahul will lie unused, it will also cause several projects in the city to come to a halt because there won’t be any homes available for PAP.”
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