A day after Opposition members stalled the proceedings of the lower House, protesting against the Maharashtra government’s refusal to provide free houses to mill workers, they joined the mill workers in a public protest on Tuesday.
Speaking at the protest meeting on Azad Maidan, Vinod Tawde, Opposition leader in the State Legislative Council, assured the agitating mill workers that their housing issue would be taken up more aggressively with the government. “I am here to tell you that I support your demand and will continue to do so till the last mill worker gets his home in a fair and just manner.”
The rally saw Shiv Sena-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) leaders assuring the mill workers’ associations of their support. “We object to the manner in which the government has gone back on its promise of providing housing. The plan to give houses to only a few thousand workers and that too by random lottery is ‘betrayal,’ Bala Nandgaonkar of the MNS said.
“So far, 1,26,166 mill workers and 22,701 heirs of the mill workers have applied for houses and they have only 16,000 houses and that too they want to sell at a rate of over Rs. 8 lakh! Doesn’t the government know that the mill workers don’t have that much money? What is stopping it from taking land from the private mills that are anyway lying empty, and construct houses for the poor mill workers whose hard work has made this city the hub of all commercial activity?” Mill workers’ union leader Uday Bhatt said.
Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan on Tuesday gave a statement in the Legislative Council that 6,248 houses were ready for allotment to the workers of defunct textile mills of Mumbai or their kin. The cost of houses built at suburban Kurla was Rs. 4,81,000 each. The houses already constructed on mill land would be made available at an average price of Rs. 8.34 lakh each for mill workers through an MHADA lottery.