At least 750 winners of the 6,925 who were allotted apartments through the mill workers housing lottery in June, are untraceable.
Housing activists have blamed unscrupulous brokers, saying they have colluded with the Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (Mhada) officials to grab these flats.
“It is a conspiracy to grab these flats which are located in prime city areas,” said Sharad Yadav, social activist who had been active in the Anna Hazare movement. “I know many mill workers who have been misguided and were paid peanuts and told to sign off the flats in the names of these brokers,” Yadav said.
He said Mhada vigilance officials should conduct an in-depth inquiry into the matter so that genuine workers are not treated unjustly.
These apartments are all located on mill land in the prime areas of the island city. Mhada was asked by the state to conduct its lottery as it had the necessary know-how considering its successful experience in the last five years.
After any draw, Mhada sends offer letters to winners informing them that they had won a house. In addition, Mhada asks them to furnish various documents such as domicile and salary certificates and also pay the initial amount to confirm their flat booking.
“I am also quite surprised as we got the letters back in such huge numbers,” said a Mhada official who does not wish to be identified. “There is definitely something fishy,” he said. Mhada, meanwhile, had given the winners another 15 days to take their offer letters and submit the documents. “We want to give the winners a chance to take their rightful flats,” said Vaishali Wagh, public relations officer, Mhada.
Cotton Textile mills were a major manufacturing industry in Mumbai, employing about 2.5 lakh workers. However, the 1983 strike created havoc, destroying the entire industry rendering lakhs of workers unemployed. In the 90s, the state government came up with the policy where any mill owner selling his premises or redeveloping it had to surrender a part of this land to house mill workers.