Mumbai: CM Shinde Turns Mill Workers' Plight Into Votes With Housing Revolution

Mumbai: CM Shinde Turns Mill Workers' Plight Into Votes With Housing Revolution

Shinde had scooped out an old promise lying in cold storage made by the then Congress govt to girni kamgars after the historic Mumbai Textile Mills closure

Draupadi RoheraUpdated: Monday, January 15, 2024, 09:58 PM IST
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Photo: ANI

One can call chief minister Eknath Shinde a ‘traitor’, but clearly he hasn’t reached where he has without some smart thinking. In July last year, Shinde summoned top officials of Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (MHADA) to his office and assigned them the herculean task of tracking down all the girni kamgars or mill workers who had lost their livelihoods during the closure of mills in Mumbai some decades ago. This number was anywhere between 1.5 to 2 lakh mill workers! 

Shinde had scooped out an old promise lying in cold storage made by the then Congress govt to girni kamgars after the historic Mumbai Textile Mills closure. The state government had assured mill workers free homes in the maximum city following the shut down of Girangaon and consequent loss of livelihoods. Unfortunately this had remained just a proposal on paper with no action. 

Reaching out to every single mill worker

Shinde ordered MHADA officials to dash out personal letters to every single mill worker and ask them to freshly upload their details and documents on a MHADA App to verify their eligibility. They were now going to be given new 300 sq ft area homes worth Rs 80 lakh to Rs 1 crore in the city! 

Simultaneously he asked the staff to begin the process of looking out for pockets of available land in Thane, Kalyan, Panvel and surrounding areas for construction of these houses.

A detailed road map prepared by Shinde himself was given to the top officials with a clear deadline. He ordered them to get down to work immediately as he wanted the eligibility process to be complete within 3 months!

Tough road ahead for MHADA

MHADA set to work on a war footing…they had a tough task ahead…right from preparing a list of more than 1.5 lakh girni kamgars to tracking down their contact details and addresses to creating a new and freshly minted App…their hands were full! 

It was more than 30 to 40 years since these girni kamgars had dispersed after the closure of mills. They were now scattered all over right from Sangli and Solapur in Maharashtra to Karnataka, Telangana, Madhya Pradesh and even Uttar Pradesh!  After MHADA tracked down their addresses, the post offices refused to accept the letters without a pin code! So the staff burnt midnight oil and worked on weekends to now get the pincodes! 

Eventually they succeeded! Over one lakh mill workers from 59 mills responded and how! The App was buzzing with information and documents.  

Savitribai (name changed), a 67-year-old woman whose husband, a girni kamgar had passed away, was uncontrollable. She told a top MHADA Official, “following my husband’s death I was ill treated by my family members. But after I received this letter from MHADA informing me that I am going to be given a home as the rightful heir to my husband’s property, my family has suddenly discovered my value! They are now treating me with respect”.

Tukaram (name changed), a textile mill worker, was emotional when he heard he was eligible for  a Rs 80 lakh to Rs 1 crore home in Mumbai. “For 40 years I struggled to survive…faced insurmountable hardships…But now it looks like the Gods have smiled upon me. I see Umbartha…a new dawn” he said, his eyes swelling with tears. 

Blessings from one lakh plus kamgars

Call this good karma or micro management of an election. For the one lakh plus kamgars, Shinde is God sent. He has their blessings and “Dua.” 

What other chief minister’s could not achieve or do during their tenure, Shinde has managed to crack it in a short span of time. With elections to the Lok Sabha, Vidhan Sabha and the BMC round the corner, he has created a 1.5 lakh strong vote bank for himself and how! 

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