The state government will soon come out with a policy to regularise a section of the 9,000 occupants who have been living illegally in the 56 transit camps of the Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (MHADA) in Mumbai.
In his statement before the Legislative Council, Minister of State for Housing Sachin Ahir said he would discuss the issue with Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan and finalise a policy. He pointed out that there were three kinds of illegal residents in the 21,135 transit tenements — those who have been sold a house by the original tenant and even have a registered agreement in their names; those who bought a house through an agent in collusion with MHADA’s rent collectors; and those who have encroached by breaking into locked rooms.
“Those in the first two categories need to be considered for some sort of regularisation on humanitarian grounds while those who have brazenly encroached need to be evicted,” said Ahir. The minister was responding to a question raised on the floor of the House by Leader of the Opposition Vinod Tawde (BJP) who said the encroachers had refused to pay the Rs 3,000 monthly rent that MHADA decided to charge in 2010.
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According to a survey done by MHADA’s Mumbai Repair and Reconstruction Board, almost half the occupants in the transit camps stretching from Colaba to Dahisar are illegal. These camps are meant to provide temporary accommodation to those residents of the 19,000-odd old and dilapidated buildings in the island city who are forced to stay away from their rundown houses until it is reconstructed. MHADA collects a paltry cess from such privately-owned buildings in return of attending to its repairs. However, in several cases, residents, once they move back into their reconstructed buildings, sell off their transit house to another person and in some cases the tenements are sold with the alleged collusion of MHADA officials.
Also, many of the original residents continue to languish in the transit tenements for decades together as their original building is never redeveloped owing to certain restrictions imposed by the island city’s typically small plots or coastal regulation zone rules. BJP’s Ashish Shelar said while those living in slums were provided protection and given free houses, such tenants, despite paying a repair cess to MHADA, do not get a permanent house when the transit camp is taken up for redevelopment.
In his reply, Ahir said slum residents had protection under the Slum Act while those living in cessed buildings were tenants of private landlords and not that of the state’s. He, however, assured the House that the government would look into ways through which such families could be rehabilitated in the redeveloped transit camps.