Usually, people oppose a project fearing the loss of homes. In this case, for the Rs 476 crore Airoli-Kalwa elevated rail line corridor, more than 2,050 illegal hutments in Kalwa want pucca homes. Sources said that these hutments are allegedly being sold at a premium price, as they will fall under the bracket of PAPs and will get accommodation in buildings.
These illegal hutments are vote banks for political parties, who are allegedly trying to woo these encroachers. Early this weekend, encroachers occupying the land, political party representatives and railway officials had a meeting to clear the encroachment.
Sources said that the encroachers have demanded that everyone situated there, though they are illegally occupying the land, want to be rehabilitated in buildings by the government. These encroachers are backed by political parties who are promising everyone housing. In fact, residents claim that these hutments are being sold for a few lakhs, so that whenever a public project comes up, they become eligible as PAPs.
“We have categorically told that we will be removing 1,080 to 1,100 structures, including illegal encroachments, shops and religious structures, which fall under our alignment,” said an official from Mumbai Rail Vikas Corporation (MRVC) that is constructing this 8 km rail line connecting the main and trans-harbour lines of the Central Railway.
The Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) is rehabilitating these PAPs under the Rental Housing Scheme in Thane, where there is land available. The encroachers, backed by political parties, are opposing this shift to Thane on the grounds that these people work as domestic help, electricians and plumbers, amongst others. If they are displaced, then their livelihood is at stake.
MMRDA is implementing the Rental Housing Scheme in Thane, Kalyan, Mira Road and Bhayander. Private developers will be offered incentive FSI in return for providing self-contained tenements of 160 to 320 square feet carpet area. The railway officials agree that rehabilitation of PAPs is a big reason behind the delay. “These encroachers are delaying projects that would benefit the public at large. Why isn’t the government removing them as they are illegal in nature,” questions S Desai, member, Mumbai Rail Pravasi Sangh.
As per the plans, the Airoli-Kalwa rail line will have an elevated bridge starting from the new Dighe station. The stretch from Airoli in Navi Mumbai is going on at a good speed. The ramp and the elevated portion will run for 2 kms right up to Kalwa, where elevated platforms shall be built. These slums and PAPs need to be removed for the pillars of this elevated rail line. This rail line will take trains all the way till Kalyan and would not terminate at Kalwa, thus connecting Vashi with Kalyan.