Refusal to provide MMRDA houses to the homeless

Don’t protect those who don’t work hard! : High Court

Mumbai: The High Court on Monday rejected the MMRDA’s demand to provide 19,000 houses reserved for project-affected people to the homeless and those living on the sidewalks permanently. The court also rejected the demand, saying that free housing could not be provided to those who did not work despite the hardships.

The Homeless Urban Foundation, a non-governmental organization, had filed a public interest litigation seeking permanent shelter for those living on the sidewalks in Mumbai. But the state government opposed the demand, saying the houses were reserved for project victims. The court also clarified that these houses could not be ordered to be made available to the homeless on the sidewalk. In fact, a bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Dutta and Justice Girish Kulkarni questioned how the petitioners could have sought permanent shelter for such citizens.

Such protection can be given to citizens whose fundamental rights are being violated in the true sense. However, the case does not fall into that category, the court said. At the same time, the court also questioned whether the petitioners would guarantee that these citizens would not leave their homes if free shelter was provided to them. After receiving a negative reply from the petitioners, he directed the petitioners to submit the details of such citizens and why they are living on the sidewalk.

Statements of the petitioners

The slum dwellers are rehabilitated under the Slum Rehabilitation Scheme. Similarly, the government should provide permanent shelter to the homeless living on the sidewalks. Not only this, MMRDA also drew the attention of the court to the fact that 19,000 houses built for the project victims are lying like this and demanded that these houses be made available to the homeless living on the sidewalks.

‘Abuse of rehabilitation scheme’

Almost all the sidewalks in Mumbai have been encroached upon for the last several years. Also no one can be asked to give them permanent free homes as they appear on the sidewalk. Moreover, such citizens were given free houses as rehabilitation, but after one or two years, these citizens sell their houses and move back to the slums. Some citizens even get such houses in the name of many in the same family with the help of fake documents. The state government’s rehabilitation scheme is being misused on a large scale, the court said.

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