Two days after it threatened to declare a strike in Mumbai on Monday, the Shiv Sena-led Opposition said chief minister Prithviraj Chavan was the ‘only CM’ to have taken steps to provide housing to ‘over one lakh mill workers’.
Sena legislator Diwakar Raote said, “Chavan kept politics aside and included all political parties to gather political will on the issue. He even managed to change our decision on declaring a bandh,” Raote said.
Chavan wants the Opposition to help find a solution.
“A special committee, consisting of Opposition leaders, union leaders and ministers of the department, will decide on how we can solve this issue. In two months, we will have around 7,000 homes ready with over 34,000 claimants. How this will be done is something we will decide after taking the Opposition’s view into consideration,” Chavan said at the Legislative Council, while pitching the Opposition as equal partners in the decision-making process.
Chavan, who was replying to the discussion on the issue of the city’s mill workers, reiterated his stand saying it is time one looks at the ‘reality of the situation’.
“We need to have around 125-150 hectares of land to provide housing to 1.1 lakh mill workers. We currently have around 16 hectares. We, therefore, will have to study the different schemes or projects under which the land can be provided either in districts or in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region, where such large amounts of land maybe available,” he said.
Chavan also clarified that the government had always promised the workers free land but never free housing.
He also said that the five eligibility conditions - income level, cut-off date, domicile, ownership of a home in Mumbai and whether housing should be given to the kin of a worker — will need to be discussed by the committee.
“More conditions would mean lesser members. I am flexible about including or removing any of these conditions. As of now, the applications do not include those from mill workers’ kin,” he said.