Polls looming, govt set to regularise 1/4th of ‘squatters’ in MHADA transit camps

Of the total 20,641 transit tenements in South Mumbai 7,356 are illegally occupied

Written by Shalini Nair | Mumbai | Published:June 23, 2014 2:10 am

A quarter of unauthorised occupants in the 56 transit camps of Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (MHADA) across Mumbai are set to be regularised by the state government as per its proposed transit camp policy.

The policy, if approved by Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan, would be the second pre-poll housing largesse after the move to extend cut-off date for slum regularisation.

Of the total 20,641 transit tenements, meant to temporarily house those residents of the perilously run-down old cessed buildings in South Mumbai, 7,356 are illegally occupied. A fourth of these unauthorised occupants are those who have purchased tenancy rights from the original tenants and they are the ones who will benefit from the scheme.

This would not only ensure that these families no longer face the threat of eviction, they will also be eligible for a new house just as the original tenant would have been.

MHADA’s 180-225-sq ft transit camp tenements, from Colaba to Dahisar, are meant to provide temporary accommodation to those who have vacated their decrepit buildings constructed by the housing board. In a conundrum typical of Mumbai’s 19,000 privately-owned cessed buildings, residents often end up languishing in such transit tenements for as many as four decades or more. This is because MHADA, which charges a repair cess from such tenants for rebuilding or repairing the old structures, often fails to do so due to the restrictions imposed by the characteristically small plots in the island city.

In many such cases, the original tenants have moved out of the transit camps after selling off their “vacation notice” to the someone else. “Such families who have bought transit camps from original tenants will be regularised. Anyway, MHADA would have had to rehabilitate the tenants in new houses, so instead it will now rehabilitate those who have purchased the vacation notices from them,” said Sachin Ahir, minister of state for housing.

MHADA’s wait-list of tenants who are yet to be rehabilitated has 2000 families on it, the oldest of whom vacated their homes way back in 1978. The wait-list will now be updated to include these category of unauthorised occupants who will get a new house on ownership basis depending on the age of their purchased vacation notice.  These new houses will be available in 10 of the 56 transit camps that are presently being redeveloped with increased floor space index (FSI).

The other two categories of encroachers are those who have purchased a transit tenement in cahoots with MHADA’s rent collectors and local agents and those who have just broken into the unoccupied tenements and started living there or letting it out to others. Officials said the regularisation scheme would not extend to these two categories.

However, Ahir said that while encroachers would be shown no mercy, in the former case since the occupants were mostly duped by MHADA officials and agents, their regularisation would be considered on a case-to-case basis.  Of the 7,356 tenements encroached, MHADA has been able to take possession of only 276 tenements.

shalini.nair@expressindia.com

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