The state government is in no hurry to meet the Bandra Government Colony residents' demand.
The residents, who are all state employees, have asked for permanent housing after their retirement where private builders are involved in the redevelopment of the colony.
They told the state that they will buy readymade houses at affordable rates or buy a piece of land on the same premises to build flats on their own.
Chief Minister Ashok Chavan told the residents' delegation that he will discuss the issue before the Cabinet. "I'm not in a position to commit anything right away," said Chavan in a meeting held at the state guesthouse Sahyadri on Monday.
Vilas Dalvi, president of the employees association said that their claim was right because they have been staying in the service quarters for decades whereas the government had allotted plots to highly placed officers and various social organisations in the same area.
"We are not demanding anything for free. We are ready to spend our lifetime earning on buying the flats. We will continue to fight," said Madhukar Vichare, chief consultant of the association.
Deputy Chief Minister Chhagan Bhujbal, who heads the public works department that will redevelop the colony, is opposed to the demand. "We will give them bigger houses. I assure that no resident (who is serving the government) will be asked to leave the colony. But the demand for permanent housing is not feasible."
"In future, employees residing in other government colonies will raise similar demands. One must understand that service quarters can be retained only when one is serving the government," added Bhujbal.
While Bhujbal is opposed to the demand, the Congress and Shiv Sena have come out in support of the employees. State Congress Chief Manikarao Thakre has conveyed his feelings to Chavan.
The state has approved a redevelopment plan of 99-acre colony. Three developers — DB Realty, Ackruti Developers and Kakade group — have won the work orders in a bidding process.
The 50-year-old colony will make space for new skyline to house 5,500 state servants, helipads, super-specialty hospital and administrative buildings, community halls, clubhouse and shopping arcade. The developers will get the right to commercially use about 20 acres.