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Mumbai’s gaothans up ante, form panel for protection from slum authority

The nine-member committee owes its existence to the one-year-old Gaothan Bachao Andolan.

mumbai Updated: Aug 28, 2017 00:44 IST
Geetanjli Gurlhosur
Geetanjli Gurlhosur
Hindustan Times
Mumbai has 189 gaothans.(Hindustan Times)

Mumbai’s East Indian community has formed an umbrella body, Gaothan Monitoring Committee, to protect its villages from the Slum Rehabilitation Authority (SRA).

The nine-member committee owes its existence to the one-year-old Gaothan Bachao Andolan, which has 44 associations. Gaothans are urban villages housing indigenous people. Mumbai has 189 gaothans.

According to activist Godfrey Pimenta, the Development Plan-2034 shows only 52 villages as gaothans. This may create a hurdle for the restoration of the remaining gaothans. Of the 52 earmarked gaothans, 20 had been classified as slums by SRA, said Pimenta.

The committee members fear that the SRA classification will pave way for builders to approach it  for redevelopment and thus destroying Mumbai’s heritage.

Representatives from the 44 associations met for a second time on Thursday to finalise an action plan for protection of gaothans and form the committee,which will coordinate among villages and spread awareness on the issue.

According to Alphi D’souza, spokesperson for the East Indian community, associations from Thane and Vasai gaothans also attended the Andolan meetings. “The movement is to impress upon the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) to save gaothans. Once our areas are demarcated as gaothans, they cannot be called slums,” said D’souza.

Gleason Barretto, trustee of Mobai Gaothan Panchayat, said, “We are getting prepared before the new DP-2034 marks gaothans as slums. It is difficult for all members from across the city to meet regularly. But the advisory panel will meet again in a fortnight.” The committee has prepared an action plan, which includes filing RTIs with SRA and the Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority, petitioning courts and holding open meetings with all gaothan residents. It also wants that the BMC rename all village roads and bylanes, and build entrance arches and history boards.

Former MLA Krishna Hegde told HT, “Several gaothans were marked as slums in the draft DP. They should be given an increased floor space index. The authorities must build an East Indian community centre. I have spoken to chief minister Devendra Fadnavis and a meeting will be held soon.”

First Published: Aug 28, 2017 00:44 IST