In the run-up to the Lok Sabha polls, Shiv Sena and Congress are trying to woo tenants of Mumbai Port Trust (MbPT) and citizens demanding more “sensible development” of land opened up by the trust in its new Development Plan.
Shiv Sena’s sitting Member of Parliament Arvind Sawant and Congress’s Lok Sabha candidate from the Mumbai South constituency Milind Deora have both made an election pitch promising their voters to resolve their issues.
While Deora met a group of tenants who are facing eviction by Mumbai Port Trust on March 11 promising them to fight against Mumbai Port Trust’s “draconian” redevelopment policy, Sawant had, on March 18, written a letter to the Port Trust’s chairman Sanjay Bhatia demanding withdrawal of the policy which, he stated, is against the residential and commercial tenants.
After MbPT decided to open up development of 966 hectares land from Colaba to Wadala, they have started sending eviction notices to residential as well as commercial tenants who were leased the land years back.
Many of them are more than 100 year old tenants. Recently, new Development Plan of the Port land has promised open spaces, recreational parks, tourists hubs, affordable housing, marine drive-like promenade.
However, Port Trust, which has been appointed as Special Planning Authority (SPA), is being criticised for proposing more commercial use of the land rather than using it for citizen’s facility.
As per the details available with the Port Trust, about 25 per cent of the land will be open for commercial exploitation.
According to the officials, there are more than 2,000 tenants on lands owned by the MbPT and majority of them have been served eviction notices after their lease expired.
Speaking to The Indian Express, Sawant said, “I have brought relief to several tenants. Especially, the people living in slums and were legal on Port land were prevented from eviction by me only. I have demanded to rehabilitate slum dwellers under the SRA scheme who are legal.
I have been demanding the scrapping of the redevelopment policy.”
He said, “When the controversial policy was made Deora was minister but he did nothing. Now, he started visiting people and promising them that he will stop the policy.”
Meanwhile, Deora has organised a public meeting in which he will address aggrieved tenants of MbPT on Tuesday.
The meeting will have more than 20 residential and commercial tenants.
On Monday, Deora did not respond to calls. However, he earlier told The Indian Express, “There is 1,800 acre land with Port trust. I don’t see any other piece of land, unless it is forest land where we have a chance to solve problem of housing, open spaces, development. When I was shipping minister, I tried my best to have a policy in place that considers open spaces, tenant issues, housing, and at the same time allows port trust to develop its land for commercial purposes. Current plan is devoid of co-ordination or communication with the city.”