60 yrs after moving into BMC-owned bldgs, PAPs continue to live in limbo

The fate of several project affected people (PAPs) who shifted from areas like Breach Candy, Nepean Sea Road and Santacruz to the BMC-owned buildings at Vikroli Parksite around 60 years ago lies in limbo. Once again, these residents fear of getting homeless as their structures have been classified under the civic body’s C1 list, which is an extremely dangerous category. However, despite being classified as dangerous to live, residents continue to live in the shaky structures as the BMC has offered them a transit accommodation at Videocon Athithi Shelters in Chembur. This is near the chemical factories and close to Mahul village. So, residents do not want to move there. In Vikroli Parksite, there are a total of 28 buildings that have been declared as C1(extremely dangerous) and C2 (no major repairs can be done). These buildings were built between 1961 and 1963. More than 500 PAPs reside here, while the remaining residents are BMC staff.

Bhagwan Sawant, resident of building no.26 said if repair work is carried out at their buildings then they may be able to live for a couple of years more there. He claimed that the buildings are not as dangerous as the BMC claims them to be. “The BMC had initially offered us transit houses at Mahul Village, which is surrounded by chemical factories. Again, the BMC has proposed new transit accommodation at Videocon Atithi in Chembur which is also in Mahul village. We have moved the city civil court and have got a stay order. We do not want to go and live in a deserted area that has no facilities. Our office and our business are closer to home.”
Other residents also echoed the same views. Maqsood Ansari, Chandrashekar Shelke and Anwar Khan, residents of building no. 28, said, “The condition of these buildings are better than what we have been offered in Mahul. Why should we reside near chemical factories?”

Another resident of building no. 3, which falls under the C2-A, Govind Pokhare said that they want the ownership of land or redevelopment policy for their homes. “All pre-1999 slum dwellers have been protected. They, too, have got new homes. But here, despite living for 60 years, we are still called as tenants living on government-owned properties that have no provision. Today, we cannot undertake redevelopment as there is no policy in place. The land is owned by the BMC and it is not keen to undergo reconstruction of these buildings,” he said.

Assistant municipal commissioner of N-ward Ajitkumar Ambi said, “Building no. 28 hasn’t got a stay yet. The matter is sub-judice. The matter will come up for hearing in the next 15 days. We will act as per the court order. As the other residents have obtained a stay from the city civil court, I cannot do anything.”

On plans of redeveloping all the buildings, BMC’s assistant commissioner (estate) department Keshav Ubale said, “A project approval plan has been sent to the building proposals department. And actual building construction plan is in process. The BMC will carry out redevelopment and eligible tenants will be entitled for a 300 sq ft flat. However, we will be getting 35% fungible FSI under which they will get 405 sq ft homes,” he said.

” When told the buildings have been declared under C1 and people staying here, Ubale added, “We have already offered them transit accomodation if they are not moving out means they are risking their lives. BMC has fulfilled all its statutory liability by giving them transit houses. The Mahul transit houses proposal was already cancelled as there is a court stay order. The new transit houses are not at Mahul. The offered transit houses are in poor condition is an excuse of residents. It will only further impact the proposed redevelopment project. The existing buildings condition will deteriorate further. Temporarily if they shift to transit houses the building redevelopment proposal can be undertaken up in full swing.”

Read More: 60 yrs after moving into BMC-owned bldgs, PAPs continue to live in limbo