A day after he was named the Mumbai Congress chief, former Union minister and party candidate from Mumbai South constituency Milind Deora on Tuesday assured tenants of Mumbai Port Trust (MbPT) that if the Congress was voted to power, it would cancel the controversial port land development policy and ensure nobody was evicted from trust land.
Deora was addressing his first public meeting as Mumbai Congress president with residential and commercial associations on trust land, facing eviction under the policy.
Colaba resident Parvez Cooper said, “Union minister Nitin Gadkari asked us to write two letters which, however, did not see the light of day. My first request to Deora is, he should make arrangements for us to meet Rahul Gandhi and assure us protection.”
Pramod Pawale, of Sassoon Dock Association, said that there were seven buildings in Colaba, where thousands of people live and that the eviction will affect all. “In 2012, I received a bill of Rs 2 crore, I sent Rs 50,000 which they returned. Today, the bill is Rs 45 crore. How am I supposed to pay it?”
Deora said, “It is my responsibility to solve these problems. Today, everyone here is suffering because of the unfortunate policy of the government.” He added, “The government is looking at development at the cost of livelihood of people. They want development but not people-centric development. For example, Coastal Road is good and I am not against it but the project should not be at the cost of fishermen’s livelihood.”
On residents’ demand to meet Rahul, Deora said, “I don’t know if it will be possible for me to connect you to Rahul, but I must say that my words are Rahul’s words.” Deora is pitted against Shiv Sena’s sitting MP Arvind Sawant in the seat. “When I was minister of shipping I had asked to exclude three ports – Mumbai, Kolkata and Kandla – from this land development policy but after the BJP government came to power, they included these ports in this policy again,” Deora said.
Sawant has alleged that it was Deora who, as a minister, brought the controversial policy. Sawant and Deora have both made an election pitch promising port trust tenants to resolve their issues.