In a seven-day notice served on October 8, MHADA asks 25 families located in Mahalaxmi to vacate their building due to upcoming Metro 3 work; how will our children go to school from so far, residents ask.
As if studying for exams is not nerve-racking enough, at least 30 children living at Mahalaxmi Sadan, Jacob’s Circle, are worried that they will be thrown out of their homes in the middle of their exams. Residents of the MHADA building have not only been asked to vacate it within the week, but will be moved all the way to Gorai. All this to make way for the Metro III construction.
“Even as I study for the semester exams, I can feel this constant tension that I might have to leave my home,” said Samar Harmalkar, a Std X student who attends a school in Byculla East. These are heavy concerns for a child of 11, but Samar is not alone in worrying.
Residents allege that MHADA has not given any assurances about what will happen to them after the Metro work is completed. Pics/Bipin Kokate
The 25 families residing in Mahalaxmi Sadan are all anxious about the toll it will to take on their kids if the MHADA authorities end up forcing them to move to Gorai. Like Samar, most of the children attend schools in Dadar or south Mumbai, and currently have to travel around 20 minutes to get to class. If they move to Gorai, the travel time shoots up to two-and-a-half hours.
Deepak Khamkar, one of the residents, said, “How will I travel all the way from Gorai to Dadar every day to drop my daughter to school? It is just not feasible.”
‘What about our homes?’
Most alarmingly, though, the residents allege that the Maharashtra Affordable Housing and Development Authority (MHADA) is ousting them from their homes without any assurances of what will happen to them once the Metro III construction is over. The building’s inhabitants received a notice on October 8, giving them seven days to vacate the building and shift to Gorai. There are now barely three days left, but the families are yet to receive any word on where they will be accommodated in Gorai, or for how long.
This uncertainty has gone on since July, when the Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation (MMRC) wrote to them stating that a structural audit had found the building’s structure weak. Not only will the underground Metro tunnel be dug through this area, but the Mahalaxmi Metro station is also billed to come up there. The MMRC advised the residents to vacate their apartments for the duration of the Metro work, to prevent any mishap. However, by this time, the children had already begun a fresh academic year.
The letter offered the project-affected people (PAPs) alternative accommodation at Wadala, which they rejected. They were then given the option of Pimpalwadi in Girgaon, and were asked to move there within seven days. Once again, residents rejected this, citing lack of basic amenities such as water and proper drainage. After a long silence, MHADA’s October 8 letter came as a big jolt to the families, said one of the residents, Abhay Babar.
Ravindra Sahani, another resident, said, “MHADA left the repairs of our building mid-way and did not pay any attention to us; now they are asking us to vacate. What will happen to our building? Will we ever get our houses back? Why are we being moved now, when we were living in danger earlier while the piling work was going on?”
Madhu Chavan, chairman of MHADA’s Mumbai Board, said, “The building is in a dilapidated condition. The main issue is that they wanted a place in the island city, but as there is no space available here, the suburbs are the only option. However, considering that the children might suffer, I have asked MHADA officials to look into this seriously.” MMRC’s spokesperson said the agency did not want to comment on the matter.