The long-standing dispute between villagers of 82 hamlets in Shahapur and Bhiwandi taluka of Thane district and the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has worsened with angry villagers now threatening to go on a protest march on March 31.
The rally has been organised at Tansa dam by locals to decide their next step of action.
For the past two months, villagers have stalled work on the Rs380-crore Tansa pipe replacement project, aimed at replacing the two old 1,800-mm pipelines with one 2,750-mm pipeline. They alleged that the civic body had failed to provide them jobs as promised and now they are protesting the education criterion laid down by the BMC for seeking employment - minimum Class 8 pass. Locals have threatened to block roads and haven't allowed any civic official in the control posts from March 20.
In a meeting called by the additional municipal commissioner Rajiv Jalota, Kunbi Sena, which has spearheaded this campaign, demanded that the civic body discount educational qualification for the locals. "What is the need for Class 8 pass individuals for a job of a labourer? The civic body is playing mischief," said Dr Vivek Patil.
Jalota said candidates, who fit the criterion will be shortlisted, and the civic body will not tweak eligibility requirement to accommodate locals.
"If the civic body sticks to this criterion, then most locals will not be eligible for this recruitment drive," said Patil.
The Hindustan Times had first reported how the locals of these villages had stalled the Tansa line replacement project after the promise made to them in 2007 for jobs wasn't fulfilled.