Even after a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) has been signed by the Indian Railways with Maharashtra government for offering 45 acres of their land to the latter, the Western Railway has begun allotting homes in the residential quarters of Matunga Road which is a part of the property to be handed over to the state government.
Surprisingly the WR authorities have begun the process to allocate at least five ‘Type-II’ homes to its staff at Matunga Road. This happened after a meeting took place in the last week of July. Sources said that at the meeting, the employees were allotted these residential spaces in quarters at Matunga Road in lieu of their unsafe homes in which they are residing.
“It is surprising that homes are being allotted at Matunga Road staff quarters itself, against their older homes in neighbouring quarters in the vicinity. Aren’t these land spaces being transferred to the Maharashtra government for the Dharavi Redevelopment project?,” questioned a WR employee and member of railway union on condition of anonymity.
The other areas include those at Bandra (West and East) and Mahim. Of the 45 acres, it includes 28.56 acres on CR and 16.44 acres on WR. Around 30,000 sq.meters of plot at Matunga Road are to be part of the 45 acres land that is going to be transferred to Maharashtra government for which they have paid Rs 800 crore to the Indian Railways.
“The land still belongs to the Railways. These allotments are being done on a temporary basis. Once the transfer of land happens, they will be allotted to staff quarters wherever available,” said Sumit Thakur, Chief PRO, Western Railway. The MoU for these 45 acres plot after being handed over; skyscrapers will be built on 5 acres of plot where these railway employees will be accommodated.
The existing facilities like staff quarters, RPF barracks, sports facilities, staff welfare institute, health units, etc. fall in these 45 acres that will be accommodated in 5 acres. In fact, the railway unions had also written a letter to the Railway administration stating that their safety and status will get affected if they share space with people residing in Dharavi.
Meanwhile, senior officials from Rail Land Development Authority and Maharashtra government said that they are in the final stages of signing the agreement. “The definitive agreement will be signed soon and after this land will be transferred to Maharashtra government,” said an RLDA official.
Earlier this month, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray took a review meeting to know the status of this land transfer from Indian Railways. Sources said that CM Thackeray will approach the Union Railway Minister Piyush Goyal asking to expedite the land transfer. Spread over 2.5 sq. km, there are nearly 60,000 families comprising of around 9 lakh people staying in Dharavi, which has remained a hotspot for Covid-19 during the lockdown.
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