After nearly two decades, a ray of hope has emerged for Mumbai's "discriminated" home-seekers, who are deprived of accommodation of their choice on the basis of religion, caste and eating habits.
The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) on Thursday passed a resolution empowering it to revoke the occupation certificate of housing societies and buildings which prevent people from buying or renting out homes if they belong to certain caste, communities or are non-vegetarians.
The trend started in mid-1990s when many housing societies and complexes began closing the doors on potential buyers or tenants as they consumed non-vegetarian food.
The proposal to stop this, which was moved by Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) corporator Sandeep Deshpande, got support from all parties - the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) getting isolated for its stand at the stormy general body meeting.
The proposal, which will boost the cosmopolitan culture of the city, will be sent to Maharashtra's urban development department for ratification, officials said Friday.
In large parts of Mumbai, realty developers and their marketing teams and estate agents flatly refuse to sell or lease their flats to certain communities and meat-eaters, claiming that the other members are objecting.
"Nobody can be denied his/her right to buy a home of his/her choice... Many such cases are reported across the city... It is necessary to maintain the cosmopolitan culture of the city," Deshpande said.
In the past, commoners and celebrities have faced an uphill task attempting to buy or rent out premises of their choice even in some of the poshest areas of the city and suburb.
Incidentally, it was Congress legislator Nitesh Rane who mooted a proposal to curb these discriminatory acts sometime back, but he was shouted down by opponents.
All political parties, sections of the builders' community and commoners have welcomed the BMC initiative, which would encourage assimilation of various groups and cultures in the famous Mumbai pot-pourri.
However, most builders would not state on record their objections to the sale or tenancy, but merely say that accommodations are "fully booked".
Despite many people raising a hue and cry over this blatant discrimination as the flats went vacant for years, the concerned authorities were hesitant to take any corrective or punitive measures, Deshpande said.
Barring Gujaratis and Rajasthanis, in the past couple of decades, the problems were encountered by Marathis, south Indians, north Indians and all others considered as traditional meat-eaters.