While hearing a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) on accessibility to affordable housing for Lower Income Group (LIG), Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) and other needy citizens, the Bombay High Court on Wednesday asked all the government agencies to file their response in the matter.
The petitioner, Consumer Online Foundation, which is a consumer organisation, was represented by Ahmed Abdi. Through the PIL, the petitioner sought for better use of land situated in Mumbai for the purpose of affordable housing. Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority and City Industrial Development Corporation Limited, meanwhile, stated in their affidavits that they did not have land available for the purpose.
“There is nearly 2,213 hectares of salt pan land in suburban Mumbai – Dahisar, Malwani, Pahadi, Mulund, Nahur, Bhandup, Kanjurmarg, Wadala, Anik, Turbhe, Mandale, Chembur, Ghatkopar Mira-Bhayander and Virar. Around 27,000 people work here under poor conditions – no proper sanitation facility, no provision for portable water and face several health hazards. It will be in the larger interest of public if this land is used for affordable housing for LIG and EWS, and the activity of salt pan is shifted to some other more appropriate area,” stated the PIL.
The petition seeks that salt pan land and mangroves along Mumbai’s coast line, which lay vacant, be used to provide affordable housing.
According to the PIL, keeping in mind the present rate of supply of urban housing, the future rate of supply has to be accelerated to eradicate the ‘affordable housing’ problem in Mumbai.
The petition further stated that Mumbai had about 438-sq km land. Out of which, only 69 km in the city was occupied. “The population density of Mumbai is 45,000 people per square km, which is high. It can be reduced by using the surplus land,” it further stated.