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MIDC cracks whip against squatters in Andheri buildings

Updated on: 19 June,2023 07:27 AM IST  |  Mumbai
Sanjeev Shivadekar |

Starts verification process after allegations surface that over 200 families have illegally occupied homes meant for original tenants of a redevelopment project

MIDC cracks whip against squatters in Andheri buildings

A building in Ambedkar Nagar, Andheri East, on Sunday.which is allegedly being illegally occupied. Pic/Anurag Ahire

The Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC) has sought to verify the papers of 239 occupants of buildings constructed on its land in Ambedkar Nagar, Andheri East, under a slum redevelopment scheme. However, only 61 families appeared before it. The developer, M/s Hubtown, has claimed that those in possession of the flats are legitimate owners.
The verification process was initiated after it was alleged that over 200 families were illegally occupying the redeveloped flats while beneficiaries were awaiting the allotment of the apartments. The MIDC summoned the 239 occupants to furnish documents to prove their ownership in March via notices issued through Speed Post and advertisements in newspapers. But 193 occupants did not turn up.

A mid-rank MIDC official said, on condition of anonymity, “We have given ample opportunities to flat occupants to prove their rights. But, people are not furnishing their documents; 193 families did not attend the earlier hearing. But after a new notice was issued, 15 of them turned up.”

A building in Andheri East that is allegedly being illegally occupied. Pic/Anurag Ahire
A building in Andheri East that is allegedly being illegally occupied. Pic/Anurag Ahire

Asked what the next step would be, the official stated that a letter has been sent to the developer (M/s Hubtown, also referred to as Akruti) to get in contact with these people and their documents. “If nothing works, the MIDC will be left with no choice but to initiate action against the erring people and get the premises vacated,” the official stated.

Political parties have also weighed in on the issue as the original tenants who have not been allotted flats are approaching local leaders. Senior Congress leader Suresh Shetty, who had represented the Andheri assembly constituency, has been vocal on the issue. Shetty’s followers have been agitating against the MIDC and developers.

A local Congress worker, Manish Mishra, claimed that it was not possible to illegally occupy so many flats without the blessings of MIDC officials, local politicians and developers. “It is understandable if one or two flats are being illegally occupied or were wrongly allotted. Looking at the large number of illegal occupants, this seems to be a well-orchestrated scam. The state government should see that a thorough probe is conducted and that too by an independent agency. Only a proper investigation will help to establish whether or it is a scam or allotment had been done following due process,” Mishra added.

Vimal Shah, the developer of the project, termed the allegations baseless and refuted all charges. He told mid-day, “Each and every house has been allotted to eligible slum dwellers. The entire list is available with the authorities. Those who are complaining are people who want more than one home and have created eligibility using dubious papers. We have submitted the list of such people to the MÍDC and have told the agency to re-examine their eligibility.  They are the people who are spreading these rumours.  Some buildings are to be constructed where genuine eligible people will be accommodated. One such structure is ready. The fact is that if one checks the list of so-called complainants, their names will be in the review list.”

This is not the first time that such allegations have been made against the redevelopment scheme. Earlier, Shiv Sena (UBT) MLA Ravindra Waikar held a meeting with MIDC authorities over similar issues.

Widow made to run from pillar to post

Sainaz Salim Choudhary, 53, received a cheque for Rs 96,000 in connection with rent payment in 2021. But, the cheque had an error and had to be returned. “After my husband’s death a few years ago, the room papers were transferred in my name. Despite that, a rent cheque was issued in the name of my husband. I brought this error to the notice of the authorities. But, it has been nearly two years and I am still running from pillar to post to get a new cheque,” Choudhary said, stating that she had been diagnosed with heart blockages and urgently needed money to undergo surgery.

Response to notices
Hearing                    1    2
No of occupants     46    15
who showed up

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