Mumbai: BMC’s olive branch for Mahul residents, offers branded toilets, flooring if they continue to reside there

Mumbai: Can a branded toilet and flooring compensate for the death of a loved one? The answer would be an obvious no from a common man, but it seems the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has become ‘heartless’ as it hardly ‘thinks’ for the lives of residents living in Mahul village, the ‘toxic hell’ of Mumbai.

Mahul village in Chembur has been in the news for over two years now, owing to the rampant air pollution, which has claimed at least 200 lives in the area. Residents claim there is at least one death on a daily basis. Apart from this, air pollution has become a root cause for respiratory and tuberculosis-like diseases, which hundreds of residents are suffering from this area.

The residents, at least 35,000 in numbers, have demanded immediate rehabilitation to some other ‘safe’ place. Similar was the opinion of the IIT-B as well as the National Green Tribunal (NGT), which too have labelled Mahul as an unsafe place for humans. Taking note of the same, the Bombay High Court had earlier this month, directed the Maharashtra government and the BMC to give an amount of Rs 15,000 each to the residents, so that they can shift to some other place, on rental basis.

The HC had also asked the authorities to give Rs 45,000 as a depository amount. Not to forget, the government had proposed to pay Rs 800 as rent to each family. Now the BMC seems to be trying to defy this order passed by a bench of Justices Abhay Oka and Manoj Sanklecha, by offering a ‘settlement’ to the residents. According to Anita Dhole, a representative of the Mahul residents, BMC had called for a meeting on April 12.

“Additional Commissioner Praveen Darade had called for a meeting with us. He made an offer for a settlement of the issue. This was an oral offer,” said Dhole. “In the meeting, Darade tried to convince us to continue living in Mahul village. He told us the BMC will put up Jaquar toilets and taps in the same houses, where we are living. Further, he said the civic body will also give Johnson tiles (flooring) in the same houses,” alleged Dhole.

The said offer was turned down by the residents within seconds. “The moment the official informed us of his offer, we told him we want safe homes,” Dhole said. “We told him (Darade) in clear terms that even if the BMC gives us gold, we will not continue to live in Mahul. After listening to our response, Darade then said we will get safe homes,” Dhole added.

When The Free Press Journal contacted Darade to know his side, he said he has no role in this issue and some other official deals with the matter. Notably, the residents of Mahul are staging a protest and their agitation has entered 177th day on Monday. There has been no implementation of the orders passed by Justice Oka, till date, allege the residents.

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