Nandu Ghate (name changed), a resident of India United Mills chawl, Lalbaug, is a worried man.
The municipal corporation’s proposed amendment in section 58 (7) of the Development Control Rules pertaining to the rehabilitation of mill workers’ chawls is threatening to leave him homeless.
The amendment says only mill workers or former mill workers will be eligible for new houses when these mill lands are redeveloped.
Ghate, a class IV employee with a private firm, had bought the 180-sq-ft room three decades ago. “I have spent by life in this chawl and one day someone tell us to get out,” Ghate said. “I will have to live on the streets. Buying a house is beyond my means.” Ghate earns Rs 7,000 a month and has to support a family of five.
A majority of the 6,000 tenants who have been living for decades in these chawls in 16 mills share Ghate’s fears. The chawls are located in expensive real estate belts like Parel, Lalbaug, Lower Parel, Worli and Byculla and are worth approximately Rs 1,000 crore.
The original clause said that all the occupants like Ghate would be entitled for a free 225-sq-ft house whenever the redevelopment of the mill takes place.
Nimesh Mehta, advocate and vice-president of the Girni Chawl Bhadekaru Sangharsh Kruti Samiti, said this was injustice. “How can anyone just pass any order which serves to dishouse such a large number of people?” said Mehta, alleging that the order was passed to cater to the developers’ lobby.
The state government has said that the interests of the workers will be protected. “The amendment has been carried out as we noticed that the managerial staff has been occupying various premises and they are also demanding new homes,” said T. C. Benjamin, principal secretary, urban development.
Of the 58 cotton textile mills in Mumbai, 25 belong to the National Textile Corporation, 32 to private parties and one to the state government. In the past decade five of these mills have been sold to private developers for astronomical sums.