Housing woes: Mill workers to take to streets on March 1
"Over 60,000 workers will gather for the March 30 protest," said Datta Iswalkar of the Girni Kamgar Sangharsh Samiti. "We have had no response from the state government to our repeated requests. After every small morcha, a delegation of union leaders is invited to meet the ministers and promises are made, but no concrete solution has emerged."
While a little over 16,000 homes are built and ready to be allotted to the millworkers, nearly 1,10,000 applications were received when the Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (MHADA) began to prepare for a draw of lots. Also, after Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan rolled back the decision to give these flats free of cost, a committee was formed to decide on eligibility criteria, allotment procedure and pricing of the flats but has been unable to arrive at a consensus. Paucity of land led MHADA to construct high-rise buildings for the millworkers, sending the cost per flat to about Rs 12.5 lakh. The unions have flatly refused to pay such a sum.
"One issue is that there is no word yet on the date of the lottery for those 16,800 homes. But also, we now want to press for a final solution to finding the 200 acres needed to build homes for all the millworkers. Had the government not amended the Development Control regulations, MHADA would have received enough land from the sick mills. We are demanding that the mill lands be prioritised for millworkers' housing," said Iswalkar, adding that the unions would however accept houses anywhere in the city.