Mumbai, 6 February 2019: As the indefinite sit- in Jeevan Bachao Andolan of Mahul residents crosses 125 days, the bureaucratic reluctance and lackadaisical government attitude means the aggrieved of Mahul are still forced to spend their days in a toxic environment.
In August the Bombay HC in a written order instructed the government to allot houses in safe regions to the people who were rehabilitated in the toxic area Mahul. In spite of this favorable judgment it took the people hundreds of days of dharna and protests to even elicit a response from Maharashtra govt. about implementation of the order.
A vague assurance came from CM Devendra Fadnavis about constituting a committee to finalize allotments of houses by different housing agencies of Mumbai in December, but without specifying any deadline for resolution of the matter.
On 9 January 2019, the committee sat with the representatives of Mahul residents who presented a list of tenements constructed by different housing agencies. Committee’s head Mr. Ajoy Mehta who is also the Municipal Commissioner directed the agencies like SRA and MMRDA to verify the information supplied by the representatives of Mahul residents and file a report within 10 days.
On the second meeting conducted on 6 February, none of the representatives from any housing agency showed up. The Mahul residents protested against this negligence and the explanation given by the Office of the Municipal Commissioner was that they forgot to organize the meeting today! Upon the protest of the Mahul residents, the Commissioner called for a meeting with the representatives of the residents under heavy police presence both inside and outside the meeting hall. As per the report sent by MMRDA and SRA, the houses they have are ‘reserved’ for affected persons from other project which will get allot in future. Shivshahi only has 10 houses. MHADA has already decided to allot 300 houses, but for a period of one year only. The Commissioner refused to allot those until MHADA decides to allot these houses permanently.
Large numbers of tenements which are constructed in advance for Project Affected Persons are lying vacant with different housing agencies like SRA, MMRDA, SPPL etc. We are demanding that these houses to be allowed to the residents of Mahul who are facing life threats due to toxic environment in that area. A total of 5,500 houses are needed for complete solution of the problem.
On the 100th day of protest by the Jeevan Bachao Andolan against fatal living conditions faced in Mahul, thousands of people carried out a candle light march, covering their mouth with black ribbons to mark their protest and agitation in memory of the hundreds of people who died due to pollution.