The Bombay High Court has allowed slumdwellers in Kalwa one more chance to prove their eligibility for rehabilitation, effectively halting the demolition drive in Thane.
Although the high court has not stayed the demolition in so many words, it has granted a month’s time to slumdwellers to prove they have settled here before January 1, 1995.
A division bench of Chief Justice Mohit Shah and justice DY Chandrachud, on Monday, asked slumdwellers to present documents to the deputy collector and deputy municipal commissioner who will decide on eligibility within a month.
The slumdwellers have a month’s time to appeal against the decision of the deputy collector and deputy municipal commissioner. The government has to appoint the appellate authority where appeals can be filed.
“This more or less amounts to a stay (on demolitions). As long as the authorities do not take any decision, demolition cannot be undertaken,” said advocate general Ravi Kadam.
Kadam also informed the court that the government was working on a “rental housing scheme”, which could be given to migrants for a limited period. “This is still tentative and needs to be debated as once people start living in the houses, they may not leave,” Kadam said, adding that there was a need for evolving a policy to check encroachment.
More than 285 slumdwellers of Sainath Nagar in Kalwa had knocked on HC’s doors after their shanties were demolished on October 6. The high court had constituted a special bench on Sunday, and had directed the government to rehabilitate women and children.
Uday Warunjikar, counsel for the original petitioner, Harit Vasai Sanrakshan Samiti, opposed the petition saying the government had given them opportunity. They had filed a PIL in 2007 seeking demolition of illegal structures in Vasai, Thane district. The high court had then extended the scope of the PIL to include illegal structures in all of Thane district.