A delegation of mill workers met governor K Sankaranarayanan on Saturday seeking assurance that the state would provide housing at a nominal cost for all 2.5 lakh mill workers in the city. The meeting came close on the heels of the first allotment of 10,000 homes for mill workers by Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (Mhada). So far, Mhada has sold 63,254 forms under the mill workers housing scheme and they have received 21,837 forms.
The state government had decided to house the mill workers on mill lands following demands and protests by the original residents of Girangaon. The state’s public housing scheme for mill workers was to provide the first lot of 10,000 homes by Diwali this year, but it has been delayed. The government is also yet to finalise the cost of these tenements. The earlier decision of pricing these homes at Rs 10 lakh was ruled out following protests by mill workers.
Since the state has been claiming that it has land to rehabilitate only 68,000 mill worker families, the delegation discussed this issue with the governor. The mill workers also informed him that they were looking at homes in the price range of Rs 1-2 lakhs, which may prove to be untenable for the government.
The delegation, which was led by Datta Ishwalkar of the Girni Kamgar Sangharsh Samiti, union leaders Dada Samant and Shanti Patel, and former home minister Bhai Vaidya, urged the governor to take the grievances of the mill workers to Chief Minister Ashok Chavan. Governor Sankaranarayanan assured them that he would ask Chavan to meet them.
“The government modified development control regulations to give more benefit to mill owners at the cost of mill workers. Why has the government not yet worked out the cost of homes or eligibility criteria by getting us on board?” said Ishwalkar, adding that the state had issued application forms for the current allotment of homes, but only for surviving mill workers and not their kin.
“It is unfair. If the state does not accept kin of former mill workers, we will gherao concerned officials like the urban development secretary TC Benjamin and minister of housing for state Sachin Ahir,’’ said Ishwalkar.
“The decision on eligibility of the candidates for housing as well as price of the homes is to be finalised by the committee chaired by the Chief Secretary JP Dange,’’ said Ahir, adding that the state would soon take a decision on accepting the kin of mill workers.