Mumbai: The residents of Juhu have launched a signature campaign against the Ministry of Defence’s policy that restricts their buildings from getting redeveloped.
On Dec 23, 2022, the Ministry of Defence had eased the age-old order of restricting constructions in 500mt radius around defence establishments to only 50mt. The latest Feb 2023 directive paved the way for old and decrepit buildings to get redeveloped but was put on hold. This triggered protests among the residents living around such defence estates. Juhu is one of the areas affected by the order.
Thousands of families affected by outdated rule
The petition that is getting widely circulated among the housing societies mentions that thousands of families are affected by this outdated rule.
As per the petition, “The name of the rule is SRO150 and it was made in 1976 and never actually applied until suddenly in 2010 after the Adarsh Scam. The rule states no construction over 500yard radius around Juhu wireless transmitter. Is there even a transmitter? Why was the rule not applied for 35 years?”
Several buildings in the Juhu and Juhu Vile Parle Development Scheme belt continue to risk their lives by residing in dilapidated buildings. For the old buildings, there has been an increased expenditure on maintenance due to repeated want of civil repairs.
According to locals, many buildings went into redevelopment around 2009-10 as they were beyond repair. “Defence officials, one day, suddenly stopped construction of these buildings. Now, builders have given up and stopped paying rent to people who are homeless. Where will the people go?” said a resident.
Hundreds homeless, thousands living in danger
The area is filled with buildings, schools, malls, hotels, many of which have been constructed in the last couple of decades by bypassing this very rule. But for those societies wanting redevelopment, suddenly the rule is applied that has made hundreds homeless and thousands living in danger.
“Ironically, there is a 12-storey building across the army station called Lhotse. A commercial hotel property called Oakwood touches walls with the army land. The Army, in the court, has and will cite security concerns but how is all this a security threat if there is a building standing so high, a hotel that will allow anyone to stay right beside the station,” reads the online petition.
The petition further reads that on many weekends, there are parties and receptions in the lawn of the army area and anyone and everyone can be invited. “How is all this acceptable at the cost of not being humanitarian on this agenda and flexing muscles on law-abiding taxpayers citing a 50-year-old rule that is outdated and hundreds of citizens think it’s irrational,” it reads.
The locals are upset at the fact that successive Ministers of Defence have only delivered lip service and assurances on the subject. “Why should we suffer when Shri Modiji says everyone should have a home and here we are getting homeless and living in weak structures,” the petition goes on to highlight the irony.
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