The state’s urban development department will move a proposal to grant free homes to mill workers on the lines of slum rehabilitation scheme.
Minister of state for urban development Bhaskar Jadhav, sensing the sentiment of legislators in the State Assembly, said the government was seriously considering giving mill workers 225 sq ft homes for free, instead of charging them rates lower than the market price.
“We will move to the Cabinet within a month with this proposal,’’ said Jadhav.
Legislators across party lines pointed out that there were reports that mill workers would be charged Rs 10 lakh for every tenement and few would be able to afford these homes.
“Why can’t the state give free homes to mill workers? If we can give 269 sq ft houses for free to slumdwellers, then similar justice should be done to mill workers who built the city,’’ said NCP legislator Shashikant Shinde.
Similar demands were made by MNS legislator Bala Nandgaokar and Shiv Sena legislators Subhash Desai and Ravindra Waikar among others.
Jadhav informed the House that the state planned to offer 10,165 houses to mill workers through a lottery scheme by Diwali.
However, even by the official records, this may be a case of too little and too late. There are 1.70 lakh mill workers’ families, if one goes by the employment rolls across mills in 1982.
The state is in a quandary because it doesn’t have the land to create housing stock for so many workers and there is no genuine data on mill workers.
The state government is hoping that a high-powered committee along with mill workers associations can sift through genuine applicants.
“The government will issue application forms for these 10,165 houses after August 15. The eligibility of candidates would be decided through these forms and houses allotted via a lottery system,’’ Jadhav said.
He added that the state would also examine if tenements reserved for transit camps would be transferred for permanent homes given the demand by mill workers.