Mumbai: Shrinking land parcels in the city, coupled with the growing demand to provide accommodation to the 50,000 strong Mumbai police force, has forced the police housing to go vertical. An ambitious cluster housing project has been undertaken by the Maharashtra State Police Housing Corporation (MHPSC) to construct for the constabulary, over a dozen skyscrapers at two locations in the western and central suburbs. Those will be a welcome departure from the sprawling police lines (colonies) scattered across the city, many of which are in pitiable condition; either old rickety chawls or dilapidated concrete pigeon holes.
Sources in the MHPSC told FPJ, as per the plans, their department will soon be commencing the construction of a cluster of skyscrapers at Goregaon (east) and Mulund (west) respectively. The two projects will dish out around 1,600 fully furnished flats, sources said. A senior MHPSC official said that the Goregaon (east) complex will come up on a two acre land in the State Reserve Police Force (SRPF) campus. "The complex has been split into two blocks -- of five and two towers. Each tower will be of 24 storeys,” the official said. This project consists of 600 flats.
The Mulund (west) complex will be bigger and taller, consisting of seven 35-storeyed skyscrapers. “They will come up on a three-acre plot near the Mulund police station,” the official added. A total of 1,000 flats will be constructed in this complex. Flats in both the projects have a carpet area of 500 square feet each. The complexes will have common amenities like multi-purpose hall, gymnasium and library.
Director, MSPSC, Bipin Bihari said, work on the twin projects is likely to be completed in two years. Meanwhile, sources in the Mumbai police said that though the new projects will bring about some succour to the burgeoning housing problem faced by the force, especially the constabulary, it will be a mere lip service given the enormity of the situation.
The claim was not without substance. So far, the department has been able to provide homes to less than 40 per cent of its staff. The 75 police colonies across the city and a couple of new blocks at Santacruz and Ghatkopar -- which were built last year -- provide cumulative accommodation to 24,000 of the 50,000 staff members in the police force. “Most of the buildings in the police lines are old and in pathetic condition. They need urgent repairs and maintenance. Several of those, which date back to pre-Independence era, are just cubicles, admeasuring 100-120 sq ft. Cracks and leakages, owing to lack of maintenance and inadequate ventilation, mark these buildings which were built subsequently,” said a police constable who is a resident of Naigaon police line.
The department provides 30 per cent of the basic monthly salary as House Rent Allowance (HRA) to those constables who have not been provided with official accommodation. “By that ratio, we get Rs. 10,000 as rentals. With that money, it’s not possible to find a one bedroom-hall-kitchen flat anywhere, not even in Mulund or Borivli,” another constable said while requesting anonymity. “Those wishing to live in the city have to shell out at least Rs 5,000 from their pocket over and above the HRA provided to them,” he said. This, in turn, forces many to find accommodation in far off suburbs like Bhyandar-Mira Road, Thane or Kalyan, resulting in long commuting hours, which not only affects their work but also takes toll on their health, said a senior Mumbai police official.