THE Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (MHADA) wants to forcibly evict tenants opposing the redevelopment of the Bombay Development Directorate (BDD) chawl and has recommended an amendment in law for the same.
In April 2017, MHADA kicked off redevelopment work on these century-old buildings located in the heart of the city in areas such as Worli, Naigaum and N M Joshi Marg. Over 16,000 families live in these buildings, many of who continue to oppose various clauses in the redevelopment of their buildings. Tenants had protested the biometric survey and many did not have any proof that they were residents of the chawl since before 1996. A letter to MHADA from an association of residents’ representatives dated September 20, 2017, states that tenants’ demands included a corpus fund of Rs 17 lakh to Rs 25 lakh, cancellation of the proposed biometric survey and relaxation of eligibility-related documents, since the Public Works Department already had lists of chawl residents.
A senior official at MHADA said that while most of these demands have been accepted, that of the corpus fund remains contentious. “The opposition by the residents continues, and hence we are seeking a change in law to enable us to proceed with the project.”
MHADA Mumbai Board chairman Madhu Chauhan claimed that since the planning stage, a small group has been trying to delay the project. “The major demands of the protesting tenants have been accepted by MHADA,” he said, adding that a group of people in Naigaun and in the N.M Joshi Marg chawl don’t want the project to be launched. To remove obstacles to the project and within the ambit of the law, the Authority has sought an amendment,” he said.
At the last meeting of MHADA’s executive body, a proposal for amendment in Section 95 (a) of the MHADA Act, 1976, was passed. The section pertains to notices to and eviction of tenants. The resolution seeking the amendment has been sent to the state government. The opinion of the Urban Development department and the Law and Judiciary department are awaited.
Raju Waghmare, president of the Akhil BDD Chawl Union Sangh, said that such a step would be undemocratic. “We will go to court to get our rights,” he said.
MHADA is the nodal agency for redeveloping the BDD chawls. The British had developed the BDD chawls in the 1920s as a low-cost housing solution for the city. The chawls are spread over 93 acres in Worli, Naigaon, N M Joshi Marg and Sewri. They comprise 160-sq ft tenements with common bathrooms and toilets. After redevelopment, tenants will get a home of 500 sq ft area.