There was an uproar at Rang Sharda hall in Bandra, where 3,863 low-cost state-built houses were allotted on Tuesday, as a woman attempted suicide. Sapna Pereira (42), a widow from Dahisar, began screaming hysterically as she was not among those given a house through the lottery system. She then tried to strangle herself with a rope.
“I desperately want a house as my in-laws harass me and my children,” she cried, falling at the feet of Maharashtra Housing and Development Authority officials.
It was symptomatic of the desperate housing need in Mumbai that only a few of those around her even bothered to see what was going on, concentrating instead on finding out whether they had been allotted the houses that cost between Rs 3.4 lakh (180 sq ft) and Rs 56 lakh (956 sq ft).
Pereira claimed she had called Prime Minister Manmohan Singh from her cellphone, waving what she claimed was a letter of aid from him. Policemen quickly whisked her away.
The houses have been a huge draw, with 4.34 lakh applicants for the houses that are much cheaper than those offered by private builders.
Over one lakh applicants gathered at the venue to know whether their application had been picked.
The first winner, Chandra-shekhar Sandve, a teacher, was ecstatic, crediting his luck to Lord Siddhivinayak, whose temple at Prabhadevi he had visited before the draw. “I will now move from a 100 sq ft shanty at Matunga to a 320 sq ft house in Pratiksha Nagar,” said Sandve, who walked to the temple to offer thanks after the draw.
For the pregnant Uma Parmeshwari (name changed), it was a disappointing day. “A house in my name would have been the security I needed to divorce my alcoholic husband,” she rued.