Residents of Tata Colony at Mulund are fighting against the Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority’s (Mhada) plan to construct buildings on the open space in their locality.
While residents claim that the one-acre plot is reserved for a playground, Mhada claims it is an amenity plot and they propose to change its reservation to residential to construct low-cost houses.
Amenity plots are reserved for welfare activities such as construction of hospitals, dispensaries and post offices.
On December 5, residents prevented the contractor appointed by Mhada from surveying the plot. They have launched a campaign against the move.
“There are more than 1,000 families staying in our colony and this is the last remaining open space in our vicinity. We desperately need this space,” said Kundan Yesambare, secretary Grihanirman Maharashtra Housing Board Welfare Society, a local body of residents. Yeshambare, former vice-principal of Siddharth College, claimed children and senior citizens frequented the place and Mhada is bound to provide an open space to residents.
Mhada officials justified the change in reservation saying the proposal was sent to the BMC for approval in August 2010. “We have surveyed the land and found that there are enough open spaces in the area,” said Amarjit Singh Manhas, chairman, Mhada (Mumbai Board). “The land will be used to construct low-cost houses, which is the housing body’s main aim.”
He said Mhada was ready to reconsider the move if the civic body raises objections.
Tata Colony comprises 54 buildings constructed by the Mhada in the 1980s. Art director Nitin Desai and Maharashtra Navnirman Sena legislator Shishir Shinde also live here.
The residents first launched their agitation in 1966 when Mhada started constructing two buildings in this plot.
“A major part of this open space has been encroached upon by these two buildings but we are now determined to save the remaining,” said Sahebrao Gholap, 38, a resident of the colony. “We will not allow construction at any cost and we might even take legal recourse, if forced to.”