Bandra slum dwellers to be shifted to Mahul, Bombay High Court denies relief

Mumbai: Even as a bench of the Bombay High Court ordered the government to ‘immediately’ shift residents of Mahul village in Chembur to some ‘safer accommodation’, the residents of Bandra’s Behrampada are now being forced to reside at the same village, which has already been declared as ‘unsafe’ for humans.

This comes after another bench of the HC, dealing with the pleas of residents of over 900 slums had accepted the proposal of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC). The civic body has decided to shift these slum dwellers of Bandra at Mahul village, the toxic hell of the city.

The BMC had served eviction notices to the slum dwellers for widening the nullah, on which these slums stand.

Earlier this month, the bench of Justices Satyaranjan Dharmadhikari and Gautam Patel had upheld the eviction notices and ordered the residents to get out of these slums.

After this order, the residents again moved the bench citing the orders of another bench, led by Justice Abhay Oka, which had ordered the government to provide safer accommodations to the residents of Mahul.

It had considered a report of the IIT-B and also the observations of the National Green Tribunal, which had declared the entire Mahul to be unfit for humans, owing to its bad air quality.

hese orders were cited by the slum dwellers before Justice Dharmadhikari’s bench, who refused to grant them any relief.

“The residents cannot be allowed to squat on a nullah and in unhealthy, insanitary conditions and particularly when because of their residence, this nullah gets blocked year after year during the monsoon. It is to clear that nullah and to allow the rain water to flow smoothly. We do not find anything in favour of these residents,” said Justice Dharmadhikari.

The judges further expressed displeasure on the slum dwellers taking help of the orders of Justice Oka to support their case. “We are not impressed by the argument that the division bench (Justice Oka’s) has found the entire Mahul area unfit for residence of human beings and the tenements, though constructed and offered, should then not be utilised even for temporary housing,” the judges said.

The bench said that the orders passed by Justice Oka were to protect residents, who were ‘eligible’ for rehabilitation and not for the ‘ineligible’ ones. The bench further said that the present slum dwellers have not yet proved their eligibility and thus cannot be protected with Justice Oka’s orders.

“We are not forcing these residents to remove themselves from their structures nor we have directed the BMC to move them to Mahul,”the judges clarified.

“As and when the issue of their eligibility is decided, they are going to be shifted to some other location. If this offer is acceptable to these residents, we allow them to take benefits of such an offer, else, they would suffer eviction and forcibly,” the judges said.

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