“After working and struggling in a textile mill for 30 long years, I have now managed to get a decent house for myself.” These were the words of an emotional Mahadeo Ahir, 59, as he bagged a low-cost house under the state government’s scheme of houses for mill workers.
The Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (Mhada) on Thursday allotted low-cost houses to 6,925 mill workers through the computerised lottery system at Rang Sharda auditorium in Bandra on Thursday. While some workers held demonstrations against the lottery, the others who did not win blamed Mhada for hurrying with the process. The police personnel prevented the occurrence of any untoward incident.
Deepak Kadam, 54, who worked at Standard Mills in Prabhadevi for 30 years, called the lottery a farce. “How can unemployed people pay Rs7.50 lakh for a house,” he asked. “We could not understand how the computer selected the winners. There should have been a draw of lots.”
Nearly 48,000 applicants had tried their luck to get houses in the areas of 19 mills spread across Mumbai. Cotton textile mills were a major manufacturing industry in Mumbai with around 2.5 lakh workers. The 1983 strike destroyed the industry, rendering the workers unemployed. In the 1990s, the state government came up with a policy under which any mill owner selling his premises or redeveloping it had to surrender a part of the land for housing mill workers. The lottery allotted houses under the scheme.
Gautam Chaterjee, housing secretary, Mhada, said: “After years of waiting, we managed to hold the lottery successfully. We also brought the total cost per unit from Rs12 lakh to Rs7.5 lakh to make it affordable for mill workers.”
“A special committee would be constituted to scrutinise the eligibility of the successful applicants and houses handed over to them in some time,” he said.