Now, say hello to terrace slums

Oct 12, 2012, 06:30 IST | Sujit Mahamulkar

Lack of open space in Mumbai means that encroachment has taken off vertically; BMC sweepers have built illegal structures on the roof of Hasanabad Municipal Colony in Khar, which, ironically, belongs to the civic body.

Say hello to yet another new species of slums in the city that is always short of space, perched ingeniously on terraces this time. Ironically, these structures have come up in quarters provided by the very body that is responsible for demolishing illegal structures: the BMC.

Hasanabad Municipal Colony in Khar
Hitting the roof: This new variety of slums has been discovered atop three-storey buildings in Khar (West) 

This new variety of slums has been discovered atop three-storey buildings in Khar Road (West). The slums have cropped up over the last four years in the Hasanabad Municipal colony, located a few metres away from Khar railway station.

Hasanabad Municipal colony in Khar
Slums on top: Slums on the terrace of the Hasanabad Municipal colony in Khar. The property belongs to the BMC and around 300 civic conservancy staffers occupy them with their families. Pic/Pradeep Dhivar

Surprisingly, the BMC has taken no action to demolish the slums. There are about six buildings in the colony and about 300 civic conservancy staffers occupy them with their families. Besides the terraces, every nook and cranny of the colony is chock-full of pakka illegal structures.

A sweeper, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that the lack of new accommodation has compelled BMC employees to construct slums on top of the buildings. “The BMC should allot us new homes as employees. We are ready to demolish the structure on the terraces,” said a resident of the colony.

Hasanabad Municipal colony is located on a property that belongs to BMC’s solid waste management (SWM) department. There are about 37 plots in the city and suburbs where 6,000 of the total 27,000 conservancy workers live with their families.

“The BMC should give houses to these staffers. Instead of developing it themselves, they should contract private builders and give them some benefits, so that there are homes for all 27,000 conservancy workers,” said Arvind Boricha, president of the Mumbai Mahapalika Safai Kamgar Utkarsha Samiti. He also pointed out that conservancy workers have been living in insalubrious conditions for decades, but nothing has been done to help them.

Four years ago, the then standing committee chairman and joint municipal commissioner announced plans to construct 27,000 homes for all conservancy staffers under a project titled ‘Ashray Yojana’.

BMC says
Asked about the status of the project, incumbent BMC standing committee chairman Rahul Shewale said, “The proposal is pending with the state government. Once they clear it we will start the tendering process. We have planned 17 sites for reconstruction of staff quarters, that will be used to create 27,000 houses for all.”

The total number of sweepers on the payrolls of the BMC

The number of staffers of the total 27,000 who have been given BMC quarters

The number of plots in the city occupied by the staffers 

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