Mumbai 8th January
The Jeevan Bachao Andolan moves towards its first step of success with the finalization of the allotment of 300 tenements to the residents of the Mahul MMRDA colony in a safe and pollution free region of Gorai in Borivali, away from Mahul. Borivali is considered by authorities to be one of the cleanest parts of Mumbai in terms of air quality. Families which have ailing members in desperate need of a change of environment, and those that have lost their loved ones after relocation have been given priority for the allotment. These houses were allotted to Mahul residents by MHADA after 55 days of protest on the streets demanding better and safe housing.
In the meanwhile, there has not been a single step taken by the State Govt. appointed committee to resolve the issue of rehabilitation of the remaining project affected people. It was expected that the first meeting would be held immediately. Today is the 73rd day of protest and there has been no communication from the committee regarding a meeting.
The Chief Minister had invited the Mahul residents for a meeting on the 56th day of the protest and had made it a point to include the condition that he would only be meeting the affected residents and not any activists (thus excluding Medha Patkar and Bilal Khan from being present at the meeting). The residents had seen the opportunity the meeting presented and had decided to consent to the condition. Distrust (and occasionally, outright contempt) towards human rights activists on the part of political authorities was, after all, not new;
It was in this meeting that the Chief Minister had acknowledged the uninhabitability of Mahul and had ordered the formation of a committee constituting the MCGM commissioner, CEO of SRA, Vice-President of MHADA and the Director of the State Environment Department. This group was later expanded to include members from other important authorities along with the representatives of Mahul residents and was meant to present a report on the possibility of providing alternate accommodation to the remaining project affected people. Yet, crucially, no timeline was set for the committee, either for their meetings or for the resolution of the issue. As a consequence, the committee has failed to meet even once since the date of its constitution on the 21st of December, 2018.
More than 150 residents have died in the Mahul PAP buildings since their relocation in the past two years. The past 72 days have seen 13 deaths. The Mahul rehabilitees continue to hope the committee treats the issue with seriousness. Ghar Bachao Ghar Banao Andolan demands that the issue be resolved on a priority basis – Every delay in resolving the issue has a direct impact on the lives of the Mahul residents.