Project-affected families had earlier been allotted homes in the ‘toxic hell’ of Mahul; 288 families will now get flats in Gorai

Ten project-affected families who had been living on the streets of Vidyavihar for over a year finally got keys to their new homes by state environment minister Aaditya Thackeray yesterday. They were among the families who had been displaced by the Tansa pipeline project and given homes in the ‘toxic hell’ of Mahul.

In the first phase of this rehabilitation, families of 288 projectaffected persons will be allotted the flats in a MHADA building in Gorai, Borivali west. The other families will be getting their ownership documents and the keys today, and most of them plan to move into their new homes as soon as this weekend. The other families currently staying in Mahul will also subsequently be moved out of there, the minister assured the residents.

Mahul has earned the sobriquet of Mumbai’s toxic hell due to the high level of air pollution. Around 30,000 PAPs were moved from their homes around the Tansa pipeline to Mahul in June 2017. Ever since, many residents have developed several health issues due to the air pollution.

Sanjeevani Pawar, 43, who lives with 11 of her family members is relieved that her physical and emotional sufferings will soon be over. “I have had recurring urinary tract infections since the last two years. Every member of the family has developed illnesses over the two years we stayed in Mahul. Our days were always filled with fear,” she said. She believes that the family’s finances also will improve as medical expenses will go down.

Anita Dhole, who was at the forefront of the protest by the residents, has stayed on the streets with her elderly parents for 496 days. She calls this a new beginning. “We tried living in the tenement allotted to us but my mother developed low blood pressure and had to be hospitalised. After that, we didn’t have the courage to go back there,” she said.

Activist Bilal Khan from Ghar Bachao, Ghar Banao Andolan called it a “small but significant win”. “We will continue the fight till the very last person living in Mahul gets alternate accommodation,” he said.

A representative of Thackeray said that while rehabilitation of the residents is already under way, there will be some measures taken by the government to reduce the pollution at source.

Last month, the BMC had cited the ‘polluter pays’ principle to refuse to pay rent to PAPs at Mahul. The civic body had told the Supreme Court that polluting industries at Mahul should pay the rent instead to those displaced by development projects.

The first batch of 10 families got their keys to flats in a MHADA building in Gorai, Borivali West from Aaditya Thackeray

=courtesy Mirror