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Kurla land for Dharavi: Residents up in arms

Updated on: 15 June,2024 06:50 AM IST  |  Mumbai
Rajendra B. Aklekar |

Series of protests planned to counter move to rehabilitate Dharavi slum dwellers on the green forested 21 acres of Kurla Milk Dairy

Kurla land for Dharavi: Residents up in arms

Kurla residents protesting. File pic

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Kurla land for Dharavi: Residents up in arms

Residents of Nehru Nagar in Kurla East have been livid since Thursday morning when they learned that the Maharashtra government has sanctioned rehabilitating Dharavi slum dwellers on the green, forested 21-acre land of Kurla Milk Dairy, which they had been fighting to conserve. A series of protests have been planned to counter the move.

Since February 2024, mid-day has been reporting how residents started a citizen movement, terming it ‘Lok Chalwal,’ to reserve the old Kurla government milk dairy land for a garden and recreation ground to maintain greenery and provide an open space in the area.

According to the report, a Government Resolution (GR) issued on June 10 by the Dairy Development Department highlighted the Dharavi redevelopment project as vital and of public importance. The land will be provided at a 25 per cent discount below the ready reckoner rate for rehabilitating Dharavi slum dwellers.

The Kurla residents carry out a protest. File picThe Kurla residents carry out a protest. File pic

“Everyone knows from past experiences that government officials and elected representatives make false promises. Once citizens’ anger subsides, they make decisions without considering our opinions. We should be aware and not depend on politicians. It is very important that we get organised at this critical time to oppose the government's decision and not fall prey to any politics. Everyone has experience with the Aarey Car Shed,” said Kiran Pailwan, one of the local residents who has been spearheading the agitation.

“We want a garden and only a garden on the Mother Dairy plot. We don't want any other project in that place. We all have to stand firm and hit the streets in protest. All residents, young boys, girls, senior citizens, all should join hands, and if everyone makes a sincere effort, we will surely come out of this crisis,” a resident activist, Vidya, said.

Another resident, Umesh Mehendale, said, “If there is redevelopment, why should the people of Dharavi be shifted elsewhere? Admittedly, the existing industries, businesses, factories, etc., will have to be relocated. But why relocate the slum dwellers? Who is going to stay in those redeveloped buildings at Dharavi? Or will it just be a commercial hub?”

The original plan here was to make a mini-BKC, but now it has been changed for slum rehabilitation. The land, earlier used by the government milk dairy at Nehru Nagar, Kurla, has been lying unused after the dairy shut down nearly a decade ago. The land is strategically placed, sandwiched along the Santacruz Chembur Link Road, LTT Kurla Terminus, Mumbai Metro Yellow Line 2B, and the Harbour Line of the suburban railway network.

Residents draw up plan

Besides meeting local elected representatives, residents have worked out strategy meetings and gatherings: On Sunday, a meeting of workers, volunteers, board heads, various party and society office bearers, and residents has been planned to formulate the next strategy to increase citizen pressure on the government.

Local MP speaks

Reacting to this, newly-elected Member of Parliament Varsha Gaikwad said, “They want to swallow the whole of Mumbai, and the BJP government has taken the role of going to any extent for that. This is a plan hatched in the name of Dharavi rehabilitation. But let me warn you that we shall foil this bid.”

Local MLA speaks

Local MLA Mangesh Kudalkar said that he has joined the residents’ protest. “I am with the residents in their protest, and we shall draw an action plan on how to get this resolved. We will not allow Dharavi residents to come here. I met Chief Minister Eknath Shinde on Friday and have explained the situation to him and handed him a memorandum.”

CM Shinde has assured Kudalkar that he would take a meeting of the concerned officials before taking any further decision in the matter.

June 10
Day GR was issued

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