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Denied homes, slum dwellers protest against Malad builder

94 residents have been protesting for 575 days, demanding return of homes

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Protestors have set up tents off the Western Express Highway
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More than 94 slum dwellers have been sitting on a protest against Omkar Developers in Malad alleging that the builder, who had taken up the redevelopment project has not kept up the promise of alloting their homes. Wednesday marks their 575th day of protest. The developer, however, argues that the slum dwellers are ineligible to get these homes because they lived in lofts and not shanties. 

The protestors have erected a tent on the service road off the Western Express Highway,  and sleep there in turns. A board next to this tent has a list of their demands, and another board mentions the number of days of protest.

Bacchu Chavan, a slum dweller, said, “In the entire project, there are 4,900 plus slum dwellers. But only 94 residents are protesting. Our issue is that the developer had initially promised us homes and he even gave us rent money for four years. We have the photocopies of cheques where he paid Rs 96,000 per year. However, now he has stopped giving us the rent money, and we have no option except to protest.” 

A spokesperson from Omkar said, “We would like to emphatically state that the 94 agitators are loft residents and hence not eligible for free housing under the state government SRA policy guideline. Omkar and its working policy are bound by the legal SRA guidelines and the matter hence is between the agitators and SRA. This is a larger matter governing all SRA projects in Mumbai.”

According to Pravinbhai, another slum dweller protesting at the site said, “We have had several meetings with the developer and SRA officials, the developer representative had assured us that they are ready to pay us money or give us home in suburbs like Mira Road, but both are not feasible. Talking about the loft, there are many other slum dwellers who were loft residents but have got homes and they are residing there. Then why should we suffer.”

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