The deadline for the “Housing for All by 2022” Mission is a few months away, but we have some way to go.
I would like to draw public attention to a very critical subject – the land at Rifle Range Santa Cruz (CTS 12), Mumbai 400029 / 400055. It may not be critical for everybody but it definitely is for those residing on the land.
Defence land, Golibar
The land belongs to Air Force Station Mumbai, Ministry of Defence, Government of India as per the property card and records held by the Office of Defence Estate Officer, Mumbai. The said land was acquired from the Government of Maharashtra in the year 1964 for the use by Air Force Station Mumbai, Ministry of Defence. The area was a firing range in earlier days. Hence the name Golibar.
The residents of the area have been occupying this place prior to 1948. Most of the poor migrants who came to Mumbai from different parts of India, in search of livelihood were homeless at that time, and they settled here. Currently there are about 9,500 hutments, with about 45,000 people whose families started living here 40-50 years ago.
Living conditions at Golibar
26th July 2005, the day of the Mumbai floods was an unforgettable experience for us. We were victims of the fury of the rain, and see ourselves as very fortunate to have survived that disaster. Our destiny however has not changed. The first rains of 2021 on 9th June brought back those memories. We were in deep waters again. Water-logging has been a regular occurrence. Our living environment is unhygienic and we lack basic civic facilities and amenities.
To highlight our issues of rehabilitation, residents of the area have, over the years, written several letters to people representatives at all levels in the country – Former Defence Minister Late Manohar Parrikar, Former Defence Minister Nirmala Sitaraman, Member of Parliament (North Central Mumbai) Poonam Mahajan, Member of Legislative Assembly (176, Vandre East) Trupti Sawant, Former Housing Minister Ravindra Waykar and also to the current Prime Minister’s Office.
The Government of Maharashtra has undertaken to make Mumbai slum free by the year 2022.
In this context, they had submitted a proposal for encroached Defence Land – 50% to Defence and 50% for the in-situ rehabilitation of encroachers. At a meeting between the Defence Minister and the Chief Minister of Maharashtra held on 4th March 2017, this proposal was accepted. As per the decisions taken at the meeting, the Slum Rehabilitation Authority (SRA) conducted a full biometric survey of residents of the 42 acres of the land starting from Golibar Colony, Santa Cruz (East), on 14th August 2018.
As per information we have gathered, the Government of Maharashtra is to set to up a committee consisting of Defence Estate Officer, a representative of the State Government and a representative of the Indian Air Force – to develop a workable plan of rehabilitation for the 9,500-odd hutments. This committee will need to submit the plan to the Defence Head Office (Ministry of Defence) and the Central Government for approval. The Ministry of Defence will then issue a No Objection Certificate to the Government of Maharashtra to go ahead with the redevelopment of the area.
Rehabilitation has been talked about for many years now. It is a human and social problem and must be dealt with as such and not in an over legalistic manner. We must not get discriminated on the basis of our earning source and low status. Now that our city is better prepared and equipped to tackle Covid-19, we need this project of rehabilitation to be given attention.
Our Golibar residents group, “Maze Ghar Pratishthan”, is regularly in touch with the local government authorities and we have been patiently waiting for the next steps to be taken. To our knowledge, the committee is yet to be formed. We urge the Government of Maharashtra to expedite the matter, towards a slum-free Maharashtra.
We are eagerly looking to the authorities to rehabilitate us in the same place with proper basic amenities, at the earliest. We hope that we will receive justice.
[As told to Citizen Matters Community Anchor, Arathi Manay Yajaman]