If the officials are to be believed, of the 20,765 tenants in the 56 transit camps of the Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (MHADA), 8,583 are encroachers.
Mhada has 56 transit camps spread across the city in places such as Sion, Ghatkopar, Borivali and Goregaon. “The encroachers have filed more than 250 cases against eviction in various courts. They also have the support of the local politicians,” said the official.
Prasad Lad, chairman, Mhada (Mumbai Repairs and Reconstruction Board), said the housing body is firm on evicting the encroachers. “We go ahead with the eviction. But, with heavy resistance, we have to take adequate police force along,” he said.
Lad said a survey is currently underway to determine whether Bangadeshi nationals are staying in these camps.
In the 1970s, residents living in old, dilapidated buildings were moved to Mhada transit camps on condition that they would return to their houses after the completion of the redevelopment work. However, the revamp was disallowed because of various issues such as road widening projects, reservation as playground or litigation. So, the tenants continued to live in the transit camps. Many have even sold the houses to others, who are now branded as encroachers.
The Transit Camp Association, an apex body of the residents, blame the Mhada for the crisis. “The houses were bought decades ago. Some Mhada officials, too, were privy to the deals. You cannot just drive the people away without taking these factors into consideration. You need to regularise genuine residents with forged papers should be evicted,” said Robert D’Souza, vice-president of the association.