Thousands were rendered homeless in a span of two days as the suburban collector’s office and the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) razed 1,737 shanties in Maharashtra Nagar, Mankhurd, on Monday and Tuesday.
The two-day demolition drive was carried out to clear encroachments from government land.
“We have been carrying out regular demolitions on encroached portions of collector’s land in Mankhurd. All the slums were illegal and had been built after 2000. Action was taken according to the demolition orders that had been earlier passed,” said Dhananjay Sawalkar, deputy collector.
Sawalkar claimed that information was sent out to slum dwellers about the demolition drive and notices were issued in advance.
In May last year, under the pretext of collector’s land being encroached, the suburban collector’s office had demolished more than 1,500 slums in Annabhau Sathe Nagar in Mankhurd which was met with strong protests from organisations such as Ghar Bachao Ghar Banao Andolan.
“The entire area is very sensitive as only a boundary wall separates the naval armament depot and the slums. Demolitions take place every year, but people, due to lack of an alternative, rebuild their houses in nearby locations,” said Fareed Hussain, Mankhurd-based activist.