A day after angry protests by residents of the century-old Bombay Improvement Trust chawls in Tadwadi, Mazgaon, over receiving an eviction notice from civic officials, the tenants of the chawl have they will not move to the rehabilitation homes 20 kilometres away in Mahul.
On Monday, Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) officials and 127 policemen entered the municipal-owned BIT chawls to tell tenants to vacate building numbers 14, 15, and 16. While these buildings were declared dilapidated, the arrival of policemen and BMC officials led to angry protests by the residents who have refused to move out to the suburban apartments where they are to be rehabilitated.
In May, the BMC issued a notice for demolition of these three buildings of the BIT chawl on the grounds that they are dilapidated or dangerous to live in. Twenty families living on the ground floor of building 14 were moved to the newest transit camp that came up in the chawl complex at least two years ago.
According to the latest SC order, the remaining families, 220 in all, are to be shifted to Mahul in Chembur, at least 20 kilometers away. Residents, however, have demanded construction of transit camps within three kilometers of their chawl homes.
Ganpat Patil, a 64-year-old resident, said, “Nobody can stay in Mahul as it is heavily polluted. Moreover, all our children go to good schools here. It will be difficult to set up our lives after they have been uprooted so far away.”
Building number 12 was demolished a decade ago and 80 families were shifted to a transit camp, which was built between two of the buildings then and is in shambles today.
“When building 13 was destroyed a month ago, it took heavy machinery to demolish it, so how is the structure unsafe?” asked Shekhar Jadhav, who is a tutor in the chawl. “Even the transit camps they’ve built are a problem as the place is now cramped with crows breeding over the increasing sewage,” he added.
Bhagwan Tambe, another resident of the chawl, said if BMC sends a written statement mentioning the place of rehabilitation, then they would vacate the homes.
Local corporator from Mazgaon, Manoj Jamsutkar, told The Indian Express that the SC had sent a committee comprising officials from Delhi and the BMC to take a look at the transit camp in Mahul before the BMC issued the latest eviction notice. He said, “I am answerable to the BMC and thus cannot oppose their decisions. Yet, I have time and again requested the Municipal Commissioner and the concerned BMC department to rehabilitate the residents within 3-5 kilometers of the chawl. I have also requested them to slow down the procedure and not use force on the residents. What more can I do?”
“SC wants to evict the people of the buildings under C1 category before monsoon. The rest of the buildings have been put under major repair. As a resident of the chawl myself, I hope the BMC takes this seriously and gets the work done,” he added.
Assistant Municipal Commissioner of E ward, Kishore Desai, said, “The deadline given by SC to the tenants was June 5. We will be making a second attempt to move them out with a larger force soon. SC has also approved Mahul as a proper place for them to live.”