An update on the outreach to the victims of the landslide in Malad East.

The tragedy that took place in Malad East on the 1st of July is ever before our hearts and minds. We have not forgotten the commitment we made to the victims of this tragedy at whose service we continue to be, nor have we forgotten the task that you entrusted to us through your kind contributions.

In the last seven days, the government, through the forest department has provided TEMPORARY housing to about 87 families in Mahul, Chembur. These one room kitchen tenements measure all of 280 square feet. It is important to stress the word ‘temporary’ as the letters handed over to the residents state that this is temporary till such time that the government provides these people with alternate accommodation elsewhere ( hopefully in Malad East).

The papers issued by the government stating that these homes are temporary and the residents have no claims on it

However, the reality of this word ‘temporary’ is seen  in the lives of several other citizens of Mumbai who have lost their homes to road widening and have also been shifted here on a ‘temporary’ basis. Seven years have since passed with no word from the government about their permanent accommodation. What makes all this very shady is the possibility that these residents will never be shifted permanently nor given the title deed to these homes.

While the issue of rehabilitation of these citizens to Mahul continues to be a contentious one (see recent judgments https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/mumbai/hc-pulls-up-bmc-state-for-forcing-project-affected-to-stay-in-mahul/article29186317.ece) the reaction of those who have shifted from Malad East to Mahul range from fatalism to enthusiasm. For those who have lost homes to road widening, this is a step down in life and for the people of Malad East this is most certainly much more than they bargained for (or is it? )

The housing colony is a few feet from the refineries

The 13 odd refineries that surround Mahul have made air quality un-breathable; this is the assertion of several studied groups on this matter. I was a bit taken aback that on my visit to Mahul on Wednesday the 28th August, the air quality did not seem any different from my home in Malad East, but then again it could have been my lucky day and as someone said, “you were there for a few hours.”

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