Bangalore: In Mumbai these days, there is a demolition drive happening along the Tansa pipeline and is proving to cause hardships to the slum dwellers. People are asked to leave their houses and relocate themselves to other places. One such situation where the slum people along the Tansa Pipeline are forced to leave their encroachments as a part of ‘Green Wheels Along Blue Lines’ project which is a Rs. 300-crore cycle track project. This project involves removal of encroachments along the Tansa main pipeline, which is the alignment of the cycle track.
Previously in 2009, in response to the PIL (Public Interest Litigation), the Bombay High Court had ordered the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) to clear the encroachments, including the unauthorised residential and commercial structures in 10 meter radius of the Tansa main pipeline that runs across nine administrative wards of the Mumbai city. Out of 350 structures in the slum next to Bandra station, only 35 are legal, while in Bandra East 780 families are eligible for rehabilitation. Assistant municipal commissioner, Alka Sasane said that these eligible families will be rehabilitated to Mahul soon.
Since then, the BMC has blown down around 5777 structures along the pipeline and claimed to clear around 9816 by the year end. So far, this year has seen the largest anti-encroachment drive and in order to ensure the area is anti-encroachment free, the BMC also has constructed walls along the pipeline. Moreover, it has reported that the civic body is about to spend 300 crores to construct a 39-km cycling track along the pipeline.
Although the civic body is in full-fledged swing to raze the shanties in Garib Nagar and Bandra areas, it is of primary concern that out of 16,717 huts along the Tansa pipeline, only 7674 huts are eligible for rehabilitation. This demolition drive by the BMC is about to cause en masse disruption in the lives of the people living along the pipeline area. According to the reports, highest number of shanties will be cleared in Kurla (5245), followed by Matunga (2401) and Bandra East (2,094).
Previously, civic chief, Ajoy Mehta ordered demolition of shanties in Bandra (East) by October 31 but the BMC failed to do so. So, the new deadline now has become end of November.
Following this demolition drive, a PIL was filed by Congress MLA Naseem Khan and representatives of the people living in slum clusters in Andheri and Powai for interim stay of the drive till April 2018. The two concerns that were put forward are that the studies of around 8500 school and college-going children in the hutments will be disrupted as it is the middle of their academic years. Secondly, they also demanded an alternative accommodation in the state within 3 kms of their present location, in case if their homes were demolished in the drive.
This PIL was heard by Chief Justice Manjula Chellur and Justice M.S. Sonak. The Chief Justice refused to give the interim stay and said that the drive is conducted in obedience with the HC order and aggrieved in person may approach the court for relief. She further said, “I understand that this (the demolition drive) might be a problem for some families. However, I can’t pass a blanket order and allow anyone to misuse the order.”
Regarding this PIL, Tanveer Shaikh, a member of NGO Chistiya Foundation, said, “The authorities have not helped in any way to rehabilitate ineligible slum dwellers.”