Mumbai: Residents of landslide-prone slums being moved to safety

Mumbai: A day after the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) promised to carry out inspection of slums in landslide-prone areas, ward officials have started the process of relocating the residents. A senior BMC official said there are more than 400 government-owned elevated areas in Mumbai where slum-dwellers have set up huts.

Assistant municipal commissioner Mahendra Ubale, who is also the in-charge of M-East (ME) ward, said in the past 24 hours the BMC has shifted more than 50 families to safe locations. ME ward covers Govandi and Shivaji Nagar areas.

Ubale said, “We have made arrangements for transit accommodation in BMC schools and buildings meant for project-affected people. Arrangements for food and other necessities have been made for the next five days, and, if need arises, more people will be shifted.”

Prashant Sapkale, the assistant municipal commissioner and in-charge of K-East (KE) ward that covers Andheri East and Jogeshwari, said his officers have started reaching out to the residents living in elevated areas of these suburbs. He said the civic body is taking all necessary precautions and has readied rehabilitation centres in case of an emergency. “Compared to KE ward, there are more landslide-prone areas in the neighbouring S ward,” he said.

Meanwhile, senior civic officials of S ward (Bhandup, Vikhroli, Powai) have said that so far more than 30 families have been shifted to local BMC schools after the July 18 mishap caused by devastating rains. “Some of those shifted are now staying with their relatives,” an official said.

Earlier, S ward officials had written to the district collector’s office, citing a possibility of landslide, and requested alternative arrangements for those residing in slum areas. The official quoted above said, “The problems of people residing in landslide-prone areas are common. We are awaiting orders from higher authorities so that an overall survey of these slum areas could be conducted.”

Another senior official of L ward (Kurla and Asalpha) said the BMC has faced resistance from slum-dwellers when asked to relocate. The official said, “During heavy rainfall, we ask residents to shift to a nearby location as the level of the Mithi river starts to rise. But many of them are reluctant and often get into fights with ward officials.”

Meanwhile, senior BJP corporator and spokesperson of the party in the BMC, Bhalchandra Shirsat said 95 per cent of elevated land belongs to the state government. He said, “All the agencies need to come together for an overall survey of these lands and slum areas. Unless a common platform is formed, blame games will continue, and so will loss of lives.”

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