Mumbai : In what could be a partial relief for Aarey Colony tribals, Minister of state for housing Ravindra Waikar on Saturday assured the dwellers that they will not have to leave the forest-laden colony. He also promised the tribals all the facilities which they were deprived of whilst they lived in padas.
“Tribals from Aarey will not be displaced outside the colony. We shall give the tribals what they deserve. There will be ample electricity, water and all other facilities which are required to lead a good life,” said Waikar, Member of Legislative Assembly from Jogeshwari Assembly.
A team of over 250 officials– including Force One National Security Guards, Forest Department officials, municipal corporation officials among others– joined the minister in an hour-long meeting with the tribals.
The minister promised to relocate Aarey dwellers from three padas– Damu Pada, Kelti Pada and Chafyacha Pada– in a five-acre plot in the Aarey Milk Colony itself.
However, residents smell foul play on government’s side and refused to pay heed to superficial pleasures on offer. “The minister visited Aarey Colony in order to convince the tribals to move into housing societies from their existing padas or hamlets,” said Prakash Bhoir, an Adivasi living in Kelti Pada. The residents claim the authorities had promised to relocate the padas in 32 acres instead of the five proposed in the meeting. “In 2010, after surveying the area, a committee had allotted 32 acres for the three padas and agreed to relocate us in that area. There are around 400 families and as many as 1,000 inhabitants. How will they fit us all in just five acres? And what about our farming from which we earn our daily bread?” asked Bhoir.