Slumdwellers and residents of housing societies cannot be on an equal footing, the high court has ruled.
A division bench of Justice Dhananjay Chandrachud and Justice Anoop Mohta dismissed a petition filed by some slumdwellers residing on a prime plot of land at Bharat Nagar in Bandra-Kurla Complex, who were seeking bigger flats in a redevelopment project. The land is located opposite the ICICI building.
“The case of the petitioners cannot possibly stand on an equal footing as that of (residents of) the housing societies,” said the judges. The petitioners demanded bigger flats of 350 sq ft and pointed to other housing societies in the same area built on land belonging to the Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (Mhada) who were given a larger area after redevelopment.
The high court rejected this plea and said that “as occupants of a census slum, they would be entitled to the allotment of permanent alternate accommodation admeasuring 270 sq ft.”
Advocate G W Mattos, counsel for Mhada, said, “The slumdwellers could not claim parity with the residents of housing societies in the area, though both were set up on land owned by the housing body. “Mhada had constructed buildings and tenements were allotted to persons who formed housing societies. The slumdwellers on the other hand were allotted plots and they put up their own hutments. Their cases are governed under different provisions of the law.”
The Bharat Nagar slum development project will see around 23,000 sq metres of land being cleared of hutments in the BKC business district. In its place, multistorey towers will come up to house around 1,000 slumdwellers. Four residential towers have already been constructed in the project that is being developed by Shyamkaran Enterprise, a subsidiary of Housing Development and Infrastructure Ltd (HDIL).
The petition filed by Rafique Sayyed and three others had objected to the slum rehabilitation project saying the hutments were not a census slum but tenants of Mhada. They also sought larger flats, than the 270 sq feet ones that were to be provided.
The slumdwellers had moved here in 1976 after their shanties near the highway were demolished.Advocate Mattos furnished documents that revealed that it was a census slum.