The four-member Bhatkar family has been living in a 180-sq-foot room in a transit camp in Pratiksha Nagar for 25 years.
Originally a south Mumbai resident, retired Mumbai Port Trust employee Ravikant Bhatkar (59) had to vacate his hours after the building he used to stay in at Kumbharwada was declared dangerous.
The family first shifted to Ghatkopar and later to the Pratiksha Nagar transit camp in Sion in 1996.
“My sons were very young when we vacated the house,” said Bhatkar, father of Vaibhav (28) and Mohnish (26). “Today, it’s
time for them to get married. But we can’t even plan that until they find a house of their own, which seems impossible at the moment.”
At least 2,000 families in the vicinity share the same plight as the Bhatkars. The transit camp they call home falls under the Sion-Koliwada constituency, which has 2,95,788 voters.
Bhatkar even tried his luck by filling a form for a Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority house but did not get one.
Every political party has promised these people ‘affordable housing’ to attract votes.
Manisha Kayande (46), the Bharatiya Janata Party candidate from the constituency said, “I will follow up with MHADA for the reconstruction of old buildings in south Mumbai, so that people who are living in transit camps for generations get their original homes back. It will be my top priority,” said Kayande.
Jagannath Shetty, Congress candidate and the sitting Member of Legislative Assembly of Matunga — his constituency has merged partly with Sion-Koliwada and the adjoining Wadala constituency after delimitation — said, “I will definitely try to solve the problem of old buildings and unemployment.”
The constituency is also home to people from the other end of the financial spectrum. Areas like Bhakti Park in Wadala house upper middle class and affluent families whose problems are vastly different from those in transit camps.
For Vishal Pawar (32) an engineer living in Bhakti Park the big problem these days is driving on the Wadala-Anik road.
“This road is completely ignored by the authorities. There are so many accidents because of debris from construction lying
on the roadside,” said Pawar. “No candidate has visited our locality yet. People here are not interested in voting but they should because it is our fundamental right.”