Rendered homeless overnight, about 300 families whose hutments were destroyed in the wall collapse in Malad on July 2 are expected to be shifted to Mahul for temporary rehabilitation. After Forest department officials drew up preliminary number of households in need of immediate rehabilitation, the civic body has set the paperwork in motion. According to officials of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), there is no accommodation available in Malad and currently only Mahul has vacant houses.
The initial survey of the Forest department revealed that about 300 households have been affected by the wall collapse incident and they need to be shifted. An official from the department, on condition of anonymity, said, “After the incident we conducted an inspection to find out how many households need to be shifted from the Ambedkar Nagar and Pimpri Pada area. The survey has been completed and we have found about 150 households from Pimpri Pada need to be relocated. The survey in Ambedkar Nagar started on Saturday but according to tentative estimates (based on old records) about 150 households are in need of rehabilitation immediately. The survey is expected to be concluded by Monday.”
Humanity will have to take precedence over eligibility
Though the BMC and the state forest department have been passing the buck for rehabilitation of the families, the issue needs urgent measures in the thick of monsoon. The forest department could have rehabilitated them sooner as a survey was already done. However, humanitarian grounds will have to take precedence over the eligibility debate, since the families who lost their dwellings in the tragedy will have to rebuild their lives from scratch.
“As of now we have shared these preliminary numbers with the civic body so that they can start shifting families,” said the official.
Spread over 46 acres Malad reservoir premises is located on land owned by the Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP). The boundary wall which fell on the shanties at the two sites on July 2 was constructed by the BMC to protect the reservoir area from encroachment. So far 27 people have died and over 70 injured in the incident. Since most of them lost their homes in the tragedy there is a demand for immediate rehabilitation of victims since rains have made matters worse.
P-north (Malad) Ward committee chairman and BJP corporator Vinod Mishra said, “Due to rain, people are facing hardship. They need to be given accommodation immediately. Many of the victims and their family members are still in hospitals. Once they are done with the treatment and other things the process of shifting will be sped up.”
According to sources in the forest department, overall about 3,000 houses are in Ambedkar Nagar and about 800 households are in Pimpri Pada. Assistant Municipal Commissioner of P-north (Malad) did not respond to calls and messages.
However, the proposal of shifting families to Mahul is not likely to go down well with residents of Malad (East) on account of the distance and also complaints of severe pollution in the area that have, over the years, forced many rehabilitated Project Affected Persons (PAP) in Mahul to shift out of there.
Nagarbai Nanavare, who lost her elder son, three grand children and daughter-in-law in the incident, says she lost all belongings in the water that swept her hut and family away. Her younger son’s hut was also damaged in Pimpri Pada. “Compensation of Rs 5 lakh will help only a bit. Our lives are here since so many years. We cannot move away,” she said.
Her daughter-in-law Jyoti Nanavare has two children, Ritu in junior kindergarten and Disha in first grade, who attend a school near the slum. “My husband and my job is here. The school is here. We can’t relocate so far away,” she said.
The family stayed in Queen Mary school’s classroom for two days and has currently taken shelter in local Shiv Sena Shakha office. Since Tuesday early morning when the wall collapsed, Sahdev Surve, whose 14-year-old daughter Sanika died due to drowning, has been staying in Kandivali Shatabdi hospital where his wife and another daughter remain admitted with multiple injuries.
“My job as security guard is in Malad. Travelling from Mahul will take hours. I will have to look for a new job,” he said. He added that his younger daughter will have to start over with change in school if they shift to Mahul