Goregaon's Patra Chawl tenants protested at the Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority’s (MHADA) headquarters in Bandra (east) on Friday, where they demanded for the rent pending from the project developer for the past five years and asked it to immediately take over the incomplete housing project. “Otherwise, as a consequence, we will forcefully take possession of the available flats in the four towers,” said Pramod Rajput, one of the residents.
He said, "Today, I am paying Rs 32,000 rent from my pocket, as the builder has stopped paying us rent. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, several people have lost jobs. Our income has been affected and we, tenants, are facing extreme hardships. I have two children who are studying for higher education. Besides paying my house rent, I also have other expenses. Why is it taking so long for the government to act on our issue?"
Another affected tenant Raju Sawant said that the MHADA Mumbai Building Repairs and Redevelopment Board (MBRRB) Chairman Vinod Ghosalkar held a meeting with the residents and assured that this project will be completed by MHADA only. "They have requested for another 15 days to resolve the issue. If at all they fail to act then, the tenants will not just take over the ready flats forcefully, but we will also take over the control of the entire 13.18 acres of Patra Chawl, which was handed over for the housing project," said Sawant.
As per the agreement deal, on the Patra Chawl layout, the developer was supposed to construct houses first for the original tenants. However, the accused developer sold out plots of the said layout to various other developers. Of which one of the developers constructed four towers comprising 30 floors each. Since, as per condition, no building can get the occupancy certificate (OC) before giving the possession to the original tenants, these houses have remained unsold, said these tenants.
On the issue, Vinod Ghosalkar, MBRRB chairman said, "Tenants want the project to be completed by MHADA itself. I have also insisted on the same. Before taking up the project, the government has to settle the cost spent by the builders involved in the project. As per our calculation, after paying all money, the project is still viable for MHADA. Not just the tenants, even MHADA will get new housing stock. A proposal for the same will be put before the government. Besides, I also directed the board to expedite the work of a committee report to be made by retired IAS officer Johny Joseph, which has been extended twice so far."
What is Patra Chawl issue:
In 2007, MHADA allowed a developer to redevelop and rehabilitate 672 chawl tenants. However, it received complaints that he sold parts of land to other builders. It has been over a decade that the residents have handed over their homes to the builder for redevelopment, the deadline of which was three years ago. The redevelopment work stopped in 2015 and residents have not been paid any rent for the past five years.
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