Two hundred and twenty three hutment dwellers staying at Ganesh welfare society at Sauyog Nagar, Andheri have recently approached the Maharashtra State Human Rights Commission (MSHRC) alleging that the Mumbai Metropolitan Regional Development Authority (MMRDA) removed their hutments illegally, by setting them on fire.
A fire broke out at Sauyog Nagar when MMRDA was undertaking a demolition drive on January 29. Locals said that two women, and five children including a nine-month baby sustained injuries due to the fire.
According to the application to the commission, the locals had submitted their residential proof to the deputy collector in November 2009 for confirmation of their residential proof and eligibility. The said that they had not received any reply.
The application also states that during the demolition drive on January 29, the locals demanded for alternative accommodation. They added that the MMRDA deputy collector, Ward officer K west ward of BMC and Amboli police, in collusion, set their hutments on fire destroying their belongings and original documents.
“Members in that area have been staying there for more than 20 years and have relevant proof to show they are permanent residents”, states the application given to the MSHRC.
The application further states that some locals are now being forced to stay on pavements, with their school going children not being able to attend schools. In the application, the hutment dwellers have also said that they are ready to shift, provided they are given alternative accommodation by MMRDA.
“About 60 people are employed with BMC as conservancy workers,” said James Ponnaiah, a local activist. “We were told by the commission that it is investigating the case,” added Ponnaiah. The application also seeks actions against MMRDA, deputy collector, Ward officer of K west ward and senior inspector of Amboli police station.