Mumbai: Residents Of Govandi Homes Demolished By BMC Refuse To Leave

Mumbai: Residents Of Govandi Homes Demolished By BMC Refuse To Leave

They have set up makeshift pandals at the entrance of the colony as a defence against any further demolition.

Dhairya GajaraUpdated: Friday, February 09, 2024, 12:32 AM IST
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Salman Ansari

Residents of slums in Panchshil Nagar of Govandi that were demolished by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) on Tuesday have refused to leave the area and have decided to rebuild their homes at the same site. They have set up makeshift pandals at the entrance of the colony as a defence against any further demolition. 

Salman Ansari

BMC officers and workers started the demolition of illegal structures made of tin and bamboo in the colony that has around 300 homes. In two days, BMC demolished around 200 structures, mostly occupied by Dalit, Buddhist, and Muslim families, many of whom claim to have been living there for over 20 years. The residents alleged that no prior notice was served to them and that the demolition was carried out in haste giving them no time to collect their belongings.

Salman Ansari

Residents say that this was not the first time their homes have been demolished. Jairam Lokhande,65, whose house was demolished on Tuesday said, “I have lived in this area for 22 years and this is the fourth time BMC has demolished my house. We were at peace since no demolition had taken place in the last five years but this time they came suddenly with full power and destroyed everything.”

Salman Ansari

Activist organisations reached the site to assist the residents while nearby temples, mosques, and Buddha Viharas are now offering food to people rendered homeless. On Thursday, hundreds of residents reached the BMC M-East ward office and staged a protest against the officers alleging that the demolition was illegal and BMC had not carried out any survey before demolition.

Salman Ansari

Bismillah Sheikh, who lives in Panchshil Nagar with her family said, “I have been living here since 1992 when the area was called Sanjay Gandhi Nagar. I presented all the proofs to the officers but they did not pay heed to my requests. We are again setting up our house with whatever material we are left with.”

Salman Ansari

Although the BMC has demolished their homes to reclaim government land, residents are determined not to leave it. Most of the residents have started setting up makeshift homes with material salvaged from the rubble while many non-government organisations are helping with necessary supplies. After the residents submitted a written complaint to the BMC, the corporation has asked for a week to reply. The residents have decided to set up pandals at both entrances of the society as a mark of protest and to restrict the BMC officials from entering the area for demolition purposes.

Vandana Tayde, a resident of Panchshil Nagar and vice-president of Jan Haq Sangharsh Samiti said, “This is not just demolition but a process of evacuation. We have to assert our right on this land we have been living on for decades and therefore we have advised everyone to start making their homes again because if we leave this place for a moment, it will be snatched from us.”

The Free Press Journal contacted Alka Sasane, Assistant Municipal Commissioner, M-East ward who sought time to reply but later did not answer the calls.

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