Residents of Mahul on Saturday rejected the committee appointed by Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis — to look into their relocation — alleging that it’s just a move to buy more time.
Led by social activist Medha Patkar, protesters said that the agitation will continue if the residents are not immediately shifted.
On Friday, Fadnavis, in a meeting with a group of Mahul residents, had announced that a four-member committee will be set up to look into finding ways of relocating them.
Headed by the municipal commissioner, the committee will comprise the CEOs of Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (MHADA) and Slum Rehabilitation Authority (SRA) as well as the director of the environment department.
Stir turns political
As many as 72 buildings have been constructed in Mahul for persons affected by projects of BMC, MMRDA, MHADA and SRA. However, with the AAP already backing the residents and the Shiv Sena now throwing its weight behind them, their fight for basic needs like clean drinking water and air to breath as well as medical and sewerage facilities may now acquire varied shades of political colour.
“However, the CM did not fix any deadline to finish the task,” said Bilal Khan of Ghar Bachao and Ghar Banao Andolan, the banner under which the residents are protesting. The committee with no resident as member implies that we will continue to be at the mercy of officials, said a resident.
Since the last 56 days, residents have been holding protests demanding immediate relocation from Mahul, which is highly polluted due to close proximity of refineries and chemical industries. They have claimed that over 100 people have died in the last five years due to pollution in Mahul.
Khan said, “In several meetings, we have mentioned availability of thousands of PAP (Project Affected Persons) tenements with MMRDA and SRA. Instead of allotting these tenements to Mahul residents, the CM chose a longer route. The CM has not acknowledged the urgency of the situation. The committee also does not have an MMRDA member.”
“Residents want to be assured that two more members would be included in the committee and the deadline announced for completing the task within one week,” he added.
A member of Mahul Prakalgrast Samiti, Nandu Shinde, who was part of delegation that met CM, said: “MHADA president Uday Samant promised to allot 300 houses in Borivali for relocating the residents. We will soon prepare a list of residents that require immediate shifting.”
MHADA president Uday Samant, Mayor Vishwanath Mahadeshwar and Shiv Sena MLA Mangesh Kudalkar visited Azad Maidan to extend support to the protesters on Saturday evening.
Over the last year, thousands of squatters near Tansa pipeline have been shifted to Mahul after their houses were demolished following a high court order.