After a lull of several months, the controversial redevelopment of the Golibar Nagar slum in Santacruz is back in the news. On Wednesday, the collector's office demolished 12 hutments amidst protests from the slum-dwellers.
The inhabitants were angered by the fact that the demolition activity took place during the exam season- when children are busy with their studies.
"It is utterly inhuman. Even last year, the demolition was held during final exams. This affects our children's studies and career," said Krishna Nair, social activist from the area. A case in point is Pravin Rawal, 16. Rawal will now have to hunt for an accommodation in the time he had slotted to prepare for his SSC exam. "How can I concentrate on my studies when my house has been demolished," asked Rawal.
For the last few years, the Golibar Nagar revamp has been at the centre of controversy with several residents alleging that the developer Shivalik Ventures did not use right means to secure developmental rights. Activist Medha Patkar had even resorted to hunger strike demanding transparency in the process. The 12 hutments demolished belonged to residents who had refused to either shift to transit camps or accept rental cheques from the developer.
"We are not opposed to development, but the developer should rehabilitate the people whose structures he has are already demolished and then carry out new demolitions," Nair said. He said that residents would continue to reside inside the demolished structures.
However, developers have denied any wrongdoing. Ramakant Jadhav, chief executive officer, Shivalik Ventures, said that all efforts were being made to persuade the dissenting slum-dwellers.
"There is an ongoing process to convince slum-dwellers to join the scheme," said Jadhav. He said all relevant rules have been followed and the construction activity is going on smoothly.