Mumbai: The anti-encroachment cell of the Mumbai Housing Board of the Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (MHADA), which has been dormant since its inception in 2014, will soon be roused into action. A meeting was held by MHADA officials at the chamber of the newly appointed president, Uday Samant. Samant told The Free Press Journal that a deputy collector, one tehsildar and five Naik tehsildars will be appointed shortly.
Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has assured him these hitherto vacant posts will be filled. Not only will the anti-encroachment cell get officials but will also get the necessary manpower along with the required machines to initiate action. As the anti-encroachment cell is not functional, the housing authority has to seek help from the city municipal corporation in order to act against encroachers on MHADA layouts. A senior civic official told The Free Press Journal, “Since MHADA has been given the status of a planning authority by the state government in May 2018, so as to facilitate the speedy implementation of affordable housing schemes, the cell will play a pivotal role.”
The MHADA has layouts across Mumbai in Kalachowkie, Goregaon, Bandra, Santacruz, Malad, and Dahisar. As many of these layouts have been encroached, action by this cell will help speed up redevelopment projects. He further stated the cell may also be tasked with acting against illegal occupants of MHADA’s transit camps. As per data from MHADA, approximately 8,600 occupants reside in its 56 transit camps in Mumbai. Illegal occupants are those who have been shifted to transit camps after their cessed buildings declared dangerous and given alternative accommodation.
However, even after being provided new houses, many continue to live in these transit buildings, a survey conducted by MHADA in 2013 revealed, said the official. Surprisingly, the authority had also submitted a proposal to regularise these illegal occupants, which is pending before the state government. Initially, the anti-encroachment cell had five to six workers but they were later shifted to other departments and the cell was left in the lurch. MHADA is considering to revive the cell on priority since the Brihamumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) is already overburdened with encroachment complaints in its own jurisdiction. The BMC anti-encroachment cell, apart from conducting the demolition of illegal structures at the ward-level also takes action against illegal hawkers.