Worli slum redevelopment project stuck for want of CRZ permission

Mumbai: The plush South Mumbai Worli area is going through a drastic change. But for the locals of Worli Village, who have been witnessing this change and are just 200 metres away from the ongoing coastal road project, the quality of living has continued to remain the same. Today 700 tenants living in slums of Golfa Devi Worli Village are struggling to carry out the redevelopment project due to want of permission from the coast guard and facing restriction of the coastal regulation zone (CRZ).

People who have been living here from '80s now believe that redevelopment has become a distant dream. Builders obtain permissions easily but when the poor desire to improve their standard of living, they are pushed into the constraints, said Haribhau Mhatre a slum dweller.

He alleged, "So many building have come up here and are near coast guard or have violated CRZ norms. Why don't the authorities raise an objection for such development? I have been living in this slum from 1982 in a small house of 10x10 sq ft having no individual toilet facility. When someone dies taking the dead body to the crematorium becomes a task due to narrow lanes. Several families have been living in a similar condition from the past several years. Now everyone wants to go for redevelopment and wish to improve their living. I fail to understand why we are being denied to live in a better quality house?"

Another slum resident and chairman of the Golfa Devi cooperative housing society Sharad Koli told the Free Press Journal, families who have son are not able to find a bride or their marriage proposals are getting rejected due to no individual toilet facility here.

He further expressed, "It's a complete civilian area and not a battleground that coast guard may face some problem because of our development project. Aditya Thackeray is the legislator of our constituency and also he is currently holding the environment ministry portfolio. We wish that he takes care of our much-awaited housing redevelopment demand and finds out a solution on the hurdles that we are facing."

The Golfa Devi slum redevelopment project was initiated in 2011 and all tenants gave their consent for the redevelopment. Subsequently, a proposal was put to Slum Rehabilitation Authority (SRA) and the appointed developer was given the LOI(letter of intent). However, the said developer failed to carry out the project or get the necessary environment permissions. Therefore, in the 2018 Annual General Meeting, the developer was terminated from the project.

The slum is spread on a sprawling 14,000 square metres of land. The tenants believe the redevelopment will also prevent the encroachment of the sea by land mafias. Besides, the civic amenities like road and sewer line facilities will improve, the problem of waterlogging during high tide will also be resolved.

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