At least 5,000 residents languishing in Mhada transit camps for decades can heave a sigh of relief as the state housing board on Friday unveiled a policy to house them in permanent dwellings.
The new policy would allow them to shift to newly built 225 sq ft and 300 sq ft flats that the Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (Mhada) had redeveloped in transit camps on ownership basis at places such as Colaba, Bandra, Mulund and Magathane.
Subhash Hazare, chief officer, Mhada (repair board) said this new policy would end uncertainty among these residents.
"There are more than 5,000 tenants who continue to live in transit camps as redevelopment of their buildings was not taking place either due to reservation issues or litigation," he said.
Hazare added that the entire process would be transparent. "We will publish the list of the houses owned by us and the residents would be given an option to choose from them."
Hazare explained that the allotment would be decided on various factors such as the year of vacating the old premises and the size of their original tenement.
Since the 1970s, many residents living in old, dilapidated buildings have moved to Mhada transit camps hoping to return after their premises were redeveloped.
However, the redevelopment was disallowed due to various reasons - either the building fell prey to road widening projects or was reserved as a playground or recreation ground or stuck in litigation.
The result: Some continued to languish in these transit camps for years, while others sold off their premises.
The state housing board has 26 such transit camps in places such as Ghatkopar, Goregaon, Sion and Magathane occupied by around 18,000 tenants.
"It is good move as these camps have become hell for us," said Suresh Khamkar, who has been living at the Pant Nagar transit camp in Ghatkopar since 1982.
Khamkar had moved to the transit camp in Ghatkopar from his Lalbaug residence.
"After so many years, I hope to own a house which I have been waiting for the last three decades."