15 years on,hope for chawl residents living in transit camps

As a teenager,Manoj Sawant had to shift out of his house in a 70-year-old KK Modiwadi chawl in Sewri and move to a 100-sq ft transit accommodation close by with his family in 1998

Written by MANASI PHADKE | Mumbai | Published: July 24, 2013 2:29:20 am

As a teenager,Manoj Sawant had to shift out of his house in a 70-year-old KK Modiwadi chawl in Sewri and move to a 100-sq ft transit accommodation close by with his family in 1998. Fifteen years later,Sawant’s family,which has now grown to nine members,has been living in the same tardy room with there being no sign of completion of the chawl’s redevelopment till now.

However,in a relief to Sawant and 135 other tenants like him,MHADA this month canceled the no-objection certificate (NOC) it had granted to the developer,MB Construction. The housing board will now take over the task of completing the redevelopment of the chawl — a dilapidated cessed structure.

Cessed buildings are those that are over 50 years old and pay a cess to MHADA for maintenance.

“The transit camp is at the foot of a hill,so when it rains we live in constant fear of a landslide. Every now and then,garbage from shanties comes rolling down the hill into our houses. The toilets are unfit for women and the drinking water often gets mixed with water from the gutter. It was all right to live like this for three years but now it is intolerable,” said Sawant,who is now 32.

“We have been scrutinising cases where the redevelopment of cessed buildings is delayed beyond measure. This is one of the first few cases in the past several years where we decided to take the stringent action,” said M K Thombare,chief officer of MHADA’s repair and reconstruction board.

In its order,the state housing board said,“The factual position is that despite the NOC being granted in 1998,the tenants or occupants have not been rehabilitated and they are forced to live in the transit accommodation,which is in a dilapidated,unhygienic and dangerous condition.

“Given by the chain of events,it becomes more than clear that the NOC holder is indulging in delaying tactics and blame game without doing anything concrete.”

While the developer was not available for comment,MHADA’s order quoted him as saying that the redevelopment could not progress due to non-cooperation of tenants and MHADA. He said the transit accommodation provided to the tenants was in good and habitable condition.

The developer had obtained a letter of intent for the chawl’s redevelopment in 1991 and an NOC from MHADA in 1998. The tenants were moved to a transit camp,which the developer constructed near the site. Fifty-six tenants shifted to one of MHADA’s transit camps as they did not wish to cooperate with the developer.

The project got a commencement certificate in 2004. Meanwhile,the tenants began to lose interest and stopped cooperating. The project was also stuck in litigation.

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