New homes for 6,900 mill workers this Diwali

A decade after the textile mills were wiped out in Mumbai, the state government is set to hand over new homes to 6,900 former mill workers this Diwali. In the first phase, the Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (MHADA) has constructed 6,900 houses along with transit camps. Most of these houses are in New Hind mills at Chinchpokli which the National Textile Corporation has handed over to the housing board, while the remaining are scattered over Swan  mills in Sewri, Swadeshi mills in Kurla, Shriram and Piramal mills in Lower Parel, Standard mills in Prabhadevi, China mills in Sewri and Morarji mills in Goregaon.

Mill workers' organisations, however, said that the government is planning on pricing the 225-sq ft flats at Rs 10.50 lakh each. "It has been over ten years since most of the mill workers received about Rs 2 to Rs 5 lakh as part of their final settlement; they cannot afford to cough up such a big sum now. If MHADA can provide similar sized low cost houses for Rs 4 to 5 lakh at Pratiksha Nagar in Sion, why can't homes for mill workers be given at the same prices?" said  Pravin Ghag, secretary of Girni Kamgar Sangharsh Samiti.

Of the 1.70 lakh odd mill workers' families, the state government has enough land to provide homes to only 68,000 workers. MHADA was to originally get 200 acres of land for low cost and mill workers' housing from the total 600 acres of defunct mill land in Mumbai. "With the government amending the rules, only 35 acres has come for mill workers' housing, which even with an increased floor space index  of four is not enough to provide homes to all workers," Ghag added.

About 6,000 mill workers who currently stay in chawls on mill lands will not be eligible for these new homes as the chawls are slated for redevelopment through private developers. State housing minister Sachin Ahir said that a committee under the chief secretary with representatives from various mill workers' unions are currently working on the allotment procedure and on fixing the price.

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