Mumbai: Land mafia selling shanties in Aarey Milk colony?

Mar 24, 2015, 10:23 IST | Ranjeet Jadhav

Residents accuse Aarey and BMC authorities of taking a lackadaisical approach to clearing off the shantytown near Durgapada that is being built by felling trees illegally

It looks like the Aarey Milk Colony (AMC) and the Brihanmumai Municipal Corporation (BMC) authorities are least interested in curbing the rampant encroachment of the green tracts in the colony. It has been learnt that in the last four months, more than 50 shanties have cropped up near Durgapada at the expense of the area’s green cover.

Over 50 shanties, made of bamboo and plastic, have cropped up near Durgapada in the last four months
Over 50 shanties, made of bamboo and plastic, have cropped up near Durgapada in the last four months

And, if the authorities fail to take immediate action, the area could soon become a shantytown. Locals claimed that local land mafia is selling the huts for anywhere between Rs 10,000 and Rs 20,000.

The Save AMC group, formed to highlight issues related to the colony, has been raising the issue of illegal encroachment and garbage dumping with the authorities time and again. However, group members allege, the authorities are turning a blind eye to the recent encroachment.

They said that the area where rampant encroachment has started is close to the JVLR side. In addition, for the last three to four months, trees are being chopped illegally to erect these huts.

When this mid-day correspondent visited the site last week, he witnessed that construction work on new huts was underway. Currently, temporary shelters are being erected using bamboo and plastic. Though a few of these shelters were razed last month, more huts are being built with each passing day.

These temporary shelters also have electricity, which is supplied by the land mafia. An AMC resident said, “Technically, it is the duty of the Aarey Milk Colony CEO office to keep a tab on the illegal constructions in the colony, as the area falls under their jurisdiction.

However, a few corrupt officials have ruined everything.” “Also, the BMC is least interested in initiating action against the culprits. I have also heard that local land mafia is involved and selling these shelters for Rs 10,000 to Rs 20,000,” he added.

Activist speak
“The concerned authorities should immediately take action against illegal structures that are mushrooming in the colony, including those who are renting out their cowsheds for film shoots.

The officials from Aarey CEO’s office are hand in glove with the local land mafia, which is responsible for the new encroachments taking place in the AMC,” said RTI activist Aziz Amreliwala.

The other side
“We don’t have the authority to take action, as the area falls under the ambit of the Aarey Milk Colony CEO. But if the AMC is handed over to the BMC, then we will be able to initiate necessary action against the illegal structures.

Currently, only the deputy collector (encroachments) can take action against the illegal structures in the AMC,” said Ramakant Biradar, assistant municipal commissioner, P-South ward. Despite repeated attempts, the Aarey Milk Colony CEO remained unavailable for comment.

No of adivasi padas inside the Aarey colony

No of tribals with voter ID cards in the AMC

No of illegal slum dwellers residing inside the AMC

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