Slum-dwellers of suburban Malad, who have been demonstrating over a fortnight on the Western Express Highway here, threatened to intensify their agitation Sunday if their demand for accommodation for those who lived on upper floors of shanties under the state’s Slum Rehabilitation Authority (SRA) scheme was not met.
Maharashtra Slum Areas (Improvement, Clearance and Redevelopment) Act, under which SRA was established, does not have provision to rehabilitate dwellers who lived or are living on the upper floors (loft) in slums.
The protesters, residents of Janu Bhoy Nagar in Malad, had evacuated their homes (shanties) in 2013 and were to be rehabilitated under the redevelopment scheme.
According to agitators, the builder — Omkar Developers — had promised to rehabilitate all tenants, including those living on the upper floors. They also received rent amount for two subsequent years. Dwellers, who lived on upper floors, claim that they have been declined accommodation under the scheme, while most of them have been rehabilitated and got flats.
Dilip Sodhakar, one of the dwellers, said, “Before making agreement with us, the builder promised to give us flats, irrespective of whether we are living on the ground or the upper floor. We have also been not paid rent (money) for last one year.”
Omkar Developers, on the other hand, said the protesting tenants were being “provoked” by the vested interest and that there was no such provision to rehabilitate those living on the upper floors.
“We have rehabilitated thousands of slum-dwellers. But in this case, some people with vested interest are provoking the gullible tenants despite knowing the rules,” said Rajeev Agrawal, head of the property affairs of Omkar Developers.
Meanwhile, Minister of State for Housing Ravindra Waikar said a competent authority had been set up to look into such cases.
The issue hotted up last week when Mumbai BJP unit vice-president Mohit Kamboj came out in support of the protesters and demanded rehabilitation for them.