Shanties usurp 1,500 sqft plot used for flag hoisting

Jan 21, 2013, 08:15 IST | Varun Singh

In a city like Mumbai where even a square foot land is worth more than the price of gold, keeping the city free of encroachment is the responsibility of the civic authorities.

But if the dwellers from the Gareeb Nagar slum area in Bandra (E) are to be believed, then the civic officials of the H-east ward are not performing their duty. 

Slum dwellers claimed that a vacant plot about 1,500 square feet, which was used for public gatherings, such as flag hoisting, has been encroached upon by outsiders. They added that despite sending several letters to the ward office in the last two months, action is yet to be initiated against the encroachers. 

The locals said they fear
that the shanties, which currently are single-roomed structures, will soon become multi-storeyed. They also complained that the shanties have caused hygiene issues in the area, as the structures have choked a nullah that was constructed for the passage of sewage from the area.

Aasiya Banu, one of the slum dwellers, said after the fire engulfed the area in March 2011, a few dwellers staying under the railway bridge were the first ones to be shifted on the plot as the bridge had to be reconstructed.

Banu said, “After the bridge was constructed, these people were shifted back. However, three months ago, some other shanties started mushrooming on the spot. And though a few women from the area, including me, raised the issue with the BMC and the railways, nothing has happened till date. It was the only piece of land that was free of encroachment in the area. But even that’s gone and we are now fighting with the authorities to reclaim it. We won’t stop till the time it is cleared of the encroachment.”
H-east ward officer M D Pimple initially denied having any information about the issue. He later said the land belonged to the railways and not the civic body. Pimple added if the railway authorities wanted to demolish the slums, the civic body would cooperate with them. Pimple assured that he would look into the matter, and find a solution to deal with it in the best possible way. 

Fact file
Gareeb Nagar has over 2,000 shanties and is located next to the Bandra railway station on the east side. A local said that a shanty measuring 10x10 costs about Rs 10 lakh, probably the reason why the vacant plot was encroached upon 

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