The High court’s decision, on Friday, directing residents of 13 Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (Mhada) buildings at Tilak Nagar to vacate their homes within 15 days of signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) has brought them relief and happiness.
The homes have to be vacated to facilitate the construction of the Santacruz-Chembur link road (SCLR) and the residents are happy that they are going to be resettled in the same area in 24 months. According to PK Raman, secretary of Navin Tilak Nagar residents association, the occupants were neither against the link road nor the development; their only demand was that they be resettled properly and in the same area.
The new buildings are going to be constructed right behind the present location and the houses are going to be much bigger. When asked if the 15-day deadline is too short, Shashi Ghadge, who has been living there for over 15 years, said that they have been prepared to move for a long time now and have also rented alternate accommodation. “It’s not a sudden decision,” he said.
The problems started in August 2004, when the residents realised that the SCLR project was encroaching upon their area. Then Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) officials came to demolish the buildings. That was when the residents formed an association and took up the matter of resettlement with the MMRDA.
The association hired an architect, who worked out a plan and gave the proposal to Mhada, which took about one-and-a-half years to approve it. “Our contention was that when there is place right here, why should we be resettled somewhere else,” said Raman.
The residents association filed a writ petition in July this year and the High Court’s decision on Friday gave them the much needed relief. If the MMRDA does not complete construction work in 24 months, it will have to appeal to the high court seeking a sanction for extension.
Also, the residents will receive compensation for all the 24 months together, when they vacate their homes. “It’s been a fight for over five years now, and the court’s decision seems like a great Diwali gift for all of us,” said Raman.