Social activist Medha Patkar on Saturday joined the Mahul residents on their 35th day of protest, demanding alternate accommodation. She gave 10 days to Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis to rehabilitate those people affected by pollution, failure of which would lead to over 30,000 Mahul residents march to the state secretariat building in South Mumbai.
Earlier in August, the Bombay High Court had directed the Maharashtra government to shift Mahul residents from the polluted area and gave eight-week time to frame a policy. “Despite the high court ruling, nothing was done. The government failed to follow the order,” a resident from Mahul said.
“Over the last 35 days, more than 500 residents from Mahul village are protesting for their lives and the CM does not have time to meet us? The BJP government calls itself a party that helps the poor, is this what they mean,” Patkar questioned during the protest.
She also added that Fadnavis would have 10 days to decide the fate of 5,500 families or else the residents would be left with no other option but to protest in front of the state secretariat building.
Patkar claimed that in the last two years over 88 deaths have been recorded in Mahul, owing to pollution-related diseases. Protesters also asserted that the BMC data obtained through RTI revealed the same.
Around 5,500 families in Mahul and Chembur, which have oil refineries and a chemical fertilizer plants, are suffering from excessive air and water pollution, and have been demanding relocation for the last few years.
These families were rehabilitated to Mahul from Andheri, Kurla and Ghatkopar after being displaced due to various infrastructure projects over the years.
According to Patkar, the NGT has imposed a fine of Rs 1 crore on the refineries. She said as per the existing provisions, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation should build houses with the MMRDA and make them available to the affected people.