Bandra’s Shastri Nagar slum residents oppose demolition notice | Mumbai news - Hindustan Times

Bandra’s Shastri Nagar slum residents oppose demolition notice

May 24, 2024 08:48 AM IST

Residents of Shastri Nagar slum in Mumbai face imminent house demolitions for a redevelopment project. They seek updated plans and adequate living conditions.

MUMBAI: The residents of the Shastri Nagar slum in Bandra West have been living beside the partially demolished homes of their neighbours for months. Now it is their turn. On Tuesday, the BMC pasted notices for the remaining residents, alerting them that their houses would be demolished from May 27 to 31 for a slum rehabilitation scheme, nallah-widening and road-widening.

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“We are not against the demolitions or redevelopment,” said Asif Shaikh, a resident. “But the redevelopment agreement we signed for an SRA project with a builder was in 2002. All we’re asking is for updated plans that properly inform us where and when we will get houses.”

The residents had a vague idea of the houses they were promised over 20 years ago. The agreement at that time mentioned houses of 225 square feet, but SRA norms later increased the size to 315 square feet. As per the agreement, the construction should have commenced within 36 months ie by 2005.

Of the approximately 1,300 houses in the slum, around 450 were broken last July. The rubble from those demolitions is still lying there, with the residents living cheek by jowl with it and children climbing and playing on it. The residents claim the demolitions were done amidst heavy rains. “We are being offered a rent of 15,000 per month, but our work is here,” said Sanjay Magre. “We can’t shift to some faraway suburb where we can get a house for 15,000. We also have concerns about the buildings that will house us. Will there be adequate space between them? Will there be enough space for our children to play?”

Shastri Nagar and the slum beyond it, Maharashtra Nagar, which is beside the railway tracks, is home to largely Muslim, Dalit and migrant populations. “My father, who passed away around eight years ago at the age of 70, was born here,” said Rupesh Mohite. “Three generations of my family have lived here. There was a municipal slaughterhouse here originally, and the BMC had built a few houses to house the workers and cleaners. Now they plan to shift us from a horizontal slum to a vertical slum.”

Sheikh said the residents had responded to the builder’s notices many times, but the builder refused to divulge details or give more information about the redevelopment plans. The residents then approached the Bombay high court and Supreme Court to oppose the developer’s letter of intent and their relocation to a Mahul transit camp, but were dismissed by the court, which said that evictions could be carried out in accordance with the law. The builder finally agreed to pay them rent for a year instead but while some residents took up the offer, most did not and stayed put in the slum.

Raja Rahebar Khan, former corporator of the area, had additional concerns about the work. “The monsoon will soon be here and the BMC has plans to realign the nallah that is flowing through the slum,” he said. “This will cause flooding. A previous BMC letter from 1980 had said that no further diversion of the nallah was necessary.”

The residents have now planned to approach the vacation bench of the Bombay high court on Friday.

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