Prakash Mehta’s move to shift slum dwellers leads to Bombay high court rap | mumbai news | Hindustan Times
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Prakash Mehta’s move to shift slum dwellers leads to Bombay high court rap

The state government recently overturned its decision to allot the tenements meant for airport revamp project-affected people (PAP) to slum dwellers after the Bombay high court intervened.

mumbai Updated: Aug 06, 2017 01:19 IST
Surendra P Gangan
State housing minister Prakash Mehta is facing allegations of favouring builders in slum rehabilitation projects.
State housing minister Prakash Mehta is facing allegations of favouring builders in slum rehabilitation projects.(HT)

State housing minister Prakash Mehta, who is facing allegations of favouring builders in slum rehabilitation projects, allegedly forced a decision to rehabilitate slum dwellers in his constituency of Ghatkopar in tenements meant for people affected by the airport makeover. The state government recently overturned its decision to allot the tenements meant for airport revamp project-affected people (PAP) to slum dwellers after the Bombay high court intervened.

According to an official, the Slum Rehabilitation Authority (SRA), while making it an exception, rehabilitated 425 slum dwellers living next toTansa pipeline at Vidyavihar into tenements built on land earlier owned by Premier Automobiles, Kurla. This was meant for the airport makeover PAP. The SRA handed over the tenements to the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) despite knowing that such a transfer was against the rules. The keys of the flats at Kurla were handed over to 425 slum dwellers by chief minister Devendra Fadnavis on December 28, just a couple of weeks ahead of the code of conduct of the civic body elections came into force.

Months after the elections and the slum dwellers settled down at Kurla, the Bombay high court while hearing a writ by the slum dwellers slammed the state government for discrimination. The court asked that why, out of 13,000-odd slum dwellers at Tansa, most were shifted to smaller flats of 225 sq ft at Mahul Gaon in Govandi, while 424 shifted to Kurla in the bigger houses of 269 sq ft. It asked the government to clear its stand on the disparity. The government then reverted its earlier decision and asked the 425 tenants to shift to Mahul. It also told the court that it was an one-off decision, which was being corrected by evacuating the 425 tenants from Kurla. When the tenants moved court against the revised decision, the court again slammed the government, staying the evacuation order on Friday.

According to officials from the SRA, the decision of shifting only 425 slum dwellers was after housing minister Mehta forced them to.

“It was a surprising decision at the behest of Mehta by the then SRA CEO Vishwas Patil. The SRA official did not even make a negative noting on the file. After the court rapped the government, Patil went to CM to revise the decision of evacuating the slum dwellers from Kurla.

It was a huge embarrassment for government and personally for CM as the court has slammed the government on both its decisions. The CM, while admitting to have taken a wrong decision took SRA officials to task ,” an official from housing department said.

Mehta refused to comment on the issue.

Local Congress MLA Arif Naseem Khan alleged that the BJP played vote-bank politics during the civic election.

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