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

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 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.”

I was joined on this trip by Lenny Soares, Sylvia Fernandes, Preetham Rodrigues and Bazel Dsouza. We met with many residents of Ambedkar nagar and Pimpri pada who have been moved to Mahul. Most of the citizens shifted now temporarily reside in buildings 31B or 10B. The colony consist of 72 buildings, each one seven stories high with 36 families on each floor. That accounts for about 18,144 homes in the area, many of which lay vacant.

This is one of the 72 buildings

Our visit was met with great love and enthusiasm as we were welcomed as sons and daughters and not just social workers. On this occasion we went from house to house meeting people, understating their needs while also collectively meeting the people in two areas. We distributed the second round of financial aid to help people set up these homes many of which do not have taps or even a fan. Previously we have also supplied them with household articles and food items.

Many of the homes in Mahul remain unoccupied

The challenge for these families is employment for the adults, many who have been jobless for two months and education for the children. The schools in the area are refusing to admit these children mid-term. Through it all, we experienced warmth and yes even joy. Personally, I was blessed by many elderly people who conveyed their thanks to the Church as the only institution that helped and continue to help these people.

Many of the victims of the tragedy at Malad East have not yet been offered homes in Mahul or have refused to move out of fear. They now face eviction and while some have turned down housing in Mahul many have not been offered any deal. This will continue to be a contentious issue and there are no easy solutions to this problem which has in reality been exacerbated by vote bank politics.

Our team will continue to reach out to those who have moved in to Mahul especially the people of Pimpripada whom we were unable to help earlier as we were unable to establish their bonafides as victims of the tragedy. Now that we have documentation in place we will make our next visit in September when we will reach out once again to these, our brothers and sisters.

Fr Warner D’Souza

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4 thoughts on “An update on the outreach to the victims of the landslide in Malad East.”

  • Utmost respect for you all. And so great to hear that there is now bona-fide documentation of this entire tragedy. Becoz sadly, several close minded people, including some so called active church goers & even some religious have been constantly & vociferously Deriding all of these sincere efforts being put in to help the victims. It’s unfortunate & shocking to hear these. Well, keep doing God’s work. God bless u all.

  • It was indeed heart touching to see the relief work carried out by Fr. Warner and his team. May God bless each of you who helped and may God help the victims.

  • Moved and humbled beyond words seeing the act of love and faith. We all learn to survive eventually, be it Mahul or Pimpripada. We do need some definitive time based action plan and legai aid as well to help rehabilitate those who are displaced and their voices are unheard still. All the best Fr.Warner. We pray that many more join you in this journey of love. -Sarita


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