A day after the Opposition stalled the proceedings in both the houses of the state legislature and Shiv Sena threatened to call a bandh in the city, the issue of free houses for mill workers that was being viewed as a political bomb fizzled out in the Assembly on Friday.
The government failed to offer any concrete solution to the simmering issue even as the Opposition mellowed its stance.
Responding to the issue of housing for mill workers, the chief minister offered no solution and instead read out statistics of land available, potential houses to be built on mills and past administrative decisions on the matter. CM Prithviraj Chavan said that there were no short cuts and it was not possible for the government to provide houses for more than one lakh mill workers in a day. “We will need 150 hectares of land to house all mill workers and that is a near impossibility in Mumbai. I am willing to look at all possible suggestions on the issue from all political parties and even amend laws to solve their housing woes but this cannot be done in a day,” he said.
The Opposition accepted his suggestion that a meeting of all stakeholders and political parties would be called immediately to look at possible ways to increase the housing stock for mill workers. Chavan appealed to the Sena to call off the bandh and even the Sena seemed willing, with legislators Ravindra Waikar and Pratap Sarnaik saying their party would do so if Chavan called the meeting before or on Monday.
Legislators also took pot-shots at each other over the politics in the sale of the mills. While the ruling alliance legislators pointed out that BJP leader Mangal Prabhat Lodha’s group had brought three mills, Sena’s Manohar Joshi associated realty firm had brought Kohinoor Mills to which MNS legislator Bala Nandgaokar informed that IndiaBulls had brought over two mills and he knew who were the real stakeholders.