It’s Diwali and Pooja Yadav does not have a home to decorate anymore after the civic body demolished hers and 1000 other homes in Prem Nagar slums at Goregaon last week. Now, she and the other residents are demanding alternative housing in the city.
Claiming that they had all the necessary documents, residents are disappointed that the authorities harassed them during the demolition and the action was taken just few days before Diwali. “They just came one fine day and demolished our homes. We are upset that they did this on such an auspicious occasion. Instead of celebrating, we will be coping with the fact that our family is homeless,” said Yadav, who used to live in Prem Nagar with her husband and two children.
The demolition that started on November 6 left more than 2000 people homeless. Most of these people are now looking for houses. Janakabai Gade, 65, and her daughter Kanchan Gade are afraid that they may have to live on the streets if they can’t find a house. “I earn Rs2,000 per month. I’m old and have a young daughter. Where will people like me go? We want the government to give us a house. They have demolished the house of a Marathi manoos,” said Gade, who is currently sleeping in a lane near her old house.
Moreover, on November 11, more than 1000 slum dwellers came out to protest against the demolition. However, they were disappointed that the authorities did not allow them to do so.
The Maharashtra Housing and Development Authority (Mhada) has now rejected the slum dwellers’ demand saying that they were illegal. “They are encroachers and we will not entertain their demands. Their allegations that they have the required documents are completely false. We have done what was necessary,” said Satish Gavai, chief executive officer, Mhada.
At present, the civic body is clearing the area and fencing it to make sure the slums do not crop up again. As of now, the area is under Mhada and it has plans to build a few buildings there.