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‘Mankhurd PAP building a vertical slum’

Activists criticise the colony MMRDA built for project-affected-people in Mankhurd.

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The Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority’s (MMRDA) colony at Lallubhai Compound in Mankhurd for project-affected people is a vertical slum, say activists.

A team comprising activists Sulaiman Bhimani, Sudhakar Malpe, Vasudev Shenoy and Homi Lord recently visited the colony of 65 buildings and found that it is not fit for human habitation. Development control rules and architectural norms have been openly flouted, they say.

The MMRDA handed over the colony to the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) in September 2010. The team surveyed the buildings, where there are about 9,300 residential tenements. “These buildings are designed to make the poor even poorer,” said Malape. “There is poor natural lighting and air circulation. The condition of sanitation is also terrible. A stench of excreta hangs in the air. The residents suffer from emotional distress and chronic sicknesses.”

According to the team, fire norms have also been flouted. The closeness between buildings not only leaves no space for fire engines but in fact facilitates the spread of fire and smoke. Passages between adjacent buildings are just 3 metres wide, meaning a fire disaster is waiting to happen.

The most striking violation is that 39 buildings that are ground-plus-five structures and have 5,914 residential tenements have no lifts. The few lifts that are there do not work.

Further, the colony gets water for just 15 minutes daily. The drainage lines are narrow, preventing the smooth flow of drain water. Most pipes from the kitchens, bathrooms, and toilets are leaking, making the entire complex a breeding ground for mosquitoes. The perennial leakages have also made the ground slippery. What’s worse, there’s just one sweeper for 69 buildings.

“The buildings are just five years old but look like they are 50,” says Bhimani, who is an interior designer. “The MMRDA spends crores of rupees on their maintenance, but the builders have made money by cutting corners.”

“We could not stand the stink around these perennially damp buildings, which are only five years old, but already look like they are 50,” said Sulaiman Bhimani, who is an interior designer and member of the team. “MMRDA is spending crores of rupees on their maintenance and the builders have made their money by cutting corners. They have washed their hands off the whole thing,” he added.

Activists suggest that MMRDA, BMC and state government officials should visit the World Bank-funded rehab colonies without any prior notice to get a clear picture of the situation.

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