Mumbai: Within the next three days, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and Housing Minister Prakash Mehta will decide the fate of over 3,000 citizens of Mumbai — whether or not they will continue residing in a ‘polluted area’ like Mahul, Chembur.
This was the assurance provided by the housing minister on Monday, to the residents, who, along with activist Medha Patkar, met him at Mantralaya. “The minister has assured us he will decide within four days if we can be rehabilitated at Kurla instead of Marol village, which is polluted and lacks basic facilities. The minister has said he will speak to the CM on this issue and communicate the decision,” said Bilal Khan, an activist, who has been helping the residents voice their grievances.
Khan further said, “The minister has also said that in the future, a decision will be taken to ensure that project-affected persons (PAPs) are relocated close to the original site from where they were shifted, to Mahul or any other sites in the city.”
This comes after these residents on Sunday, gheraoed the house of housing minister Mehta in Ghatkopar, demanding the immediate implementation of the orders of the Bombay high court. The residents, mostly PAPs, along with some non-governmental organisations (NGOs), have been protesting since August.
According to the order cited by these residents, the HC bench led by Justice Abhay Oka had directed the Maharashtra government to consider allotting alternative accommodation to them. The bench had even asked the government to grant a reasonable amount of money to them otherwise, so they could find suitable rental accommodation.
The orders were passed after several residents petitioned the bench, highlighting the lack of basic facilities at the 59 buildings in Mahul village, where they were compelled to shift under the rehabilitation project. The pleas even highlighted the observations of the National Green Tribunal (NGT), which specifically said the air quality in the area posed a health hazard to the people living in the area.
Having considered the contentions, the bench led by Justice Oka had said, “Right to live in a pollution-free environment is an essential part of the fundamental right guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution of India. Prima facie, we are of the view that the government cannot force any of the project-affected persons to go and occupy the tenements in Mahul.”