Mumbai: Distressed Patra Chawl tenants to go on indefinite hunger strike

Goregaon Patra Chawl tenants who have been waiting for new homes since over a decade, have decided to intensify their resentment against the Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (MHADA) and EX Chief Secretary Johnny Joseph’s project report submitted recently. They have called for indefinite chain hunger strike beginning from February 16, on the project site area only, informed Makrand Parab, a part of the Patra Chawl Action Committee.

He explained that Johnny Joseph's report tells how financially viable this redevelopment project would be for MHADA.

The report advises MHADA should undertake the incomplete redevelopment project and give Rs 15,000 per family as rent till the project work is completed. Moreover, by using the current Floor Space Index (FSI) of 4 the project work should be executed. "Interestingly with these recommendations, MHADA will make a profit of at least Rs 1,000 crore but, unfortunately no suggestions have been made for the families who have been living without homes for the past so many years. No mention has been made about the Rs 25 crore corpus fund to be given to tenants of Patra Chawl as per the previous agreement. Nothing has been mentioned about the five year pending rents from the builder. Moreover, our project planning was made as per 2.5 FSI and MHADA now can carry out the remaining work at an FSI of 4. Therefore, tenants should be given the benefit of the new FSI too. We reject this report as no suggestions have been made for the benefit of the original tenants. MHADA has also deceived us tenants, though we regularly wrote letters, held meetings with officials about our demands," Parab stated.

The Tenants Action Committee argued that in the report Rs 15,000 per family rent to be paid during the pending construction work was suggested, while the previous developer used to pay Rs 40,000 rent five years ago. Therefore the rent payment should be made on par. In fact, in Goregaon no where one can get, one bed room kitchen (BHK) flat on rent at Rs 15,000, he asserted.

672 tenants were promised to be rehabilitated in exchange of their old houses in Goregaon's Patra Chawl therefore they vacated the property in 2007. However, the developer --Guruashish Constructions, a subsidiary of HDIL went into insolvency in 2017 and since then tenants were left without transit rent payments. The construction work too stopped. Moreover, 306 tenements that the developer was to hand over to MHADA for distribution through its lottery system, are also incomplete.

For which, the government-appointed one-man committee in January 2020 - former chief secretary Johny Joseph to look into tenants rehabilitation and make suggestion over how to pay rents to the deprived families. In addition, the committee was also tasked to make suggestions on completion of 307 lottery tenements but, only part one of the report has been submitted.

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