Ignoring the objections raised by the screening committee, the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) officials have been found to have given homes under the resettlement and rehabilitation scheme to fake slumdwellers.
The MMRDA had to rehabilitate residents of 686 properties, which were to be evicted to build the fifth and sixth rail lines between Thane and Diva, as part of the Mumbai Urban Transport Project-II (MUTP-II). In 2009 and 2012, NGO SPARC was asked to carry out the baseline socio-economic survey (BSES) to come up with a list of affected slumdwellers, who were subsequently given identification numbers. The affected slumdwellers were given homes at Govandi, Mankhurd and Nahur.
However, more people approached the social development cell of the MMRDA in 2013-2014, claiming they were not given homes under the scheme. While verifying their claims, the first-level grievance redressal committee found the slums mentioned by these people -- Samrat Ashok Nagar, Indira Nagar at Kalwa – were not mentioned in the survey. Further, they also did not provide the documents or attend the hearing. Based on this, the committee refuted the claims, after which the residents approached the second-level grievance redressal committee. This committee, however, allotted homes to these people without proper verification, bypassing the prescribed procedure.
While the second-level committee, in its order, a copy of which is with HT, admitted that the survey does not mention the names of the people, it claims the houses were allotted based on the information provided by them and the panchnama conducted by the deputy collector of the social development cell. The panchnama, in most cases, does not have the signature by the deputy collector, raising doubts over its authenticity.
Harish Pawar, who was then the head of the second-level committee, said, “We found the claims made by the people were true, and hence we allotted them homes under the MUTP-II policy. They had provided the required address proof.”
In the order, the committee has cited statements given by neighbours and documents such as the ration and election card as the basis for sanctioning homes under the scheme. These documents, however, were not shared with the first-level committee.
A former MMRDA official said instead of relying on these documents, the officials should have conducted a proper investigation into the matter.