- In 2017, about 1,000 families were moved to Mahul from Mumbai's Ghatkopar
- Mahul is a heavily-industrialised neighbourhood of Mumbai
- Residents call the area a "gas chamber", complain of health issues
It has been two months now that thousands of people in Mahul, a heavily-industrialised neighbourhood of Mumbai, have been protesting against their relocation from Ghatkopar. The residents, who call Mahul a "gas chamber", say they have developed heath issues in the last one year after they were relocated.
In May 2017, around 1,000 families living in eastern Mumbai's Ghatkopar area near the Tansa pipeline were moved to Mahul. The relocation happened after their houses were razed down in accordance with the 2009 Bombay High Court order, which states that residential settlements should not be allowed within 10 meters of the pipeline.
These people say, over time, they have developed health issues like respiratory problems. "Any illiterate person can tell you what kind of problems we face. Residents have developed respiratory issues, kidney and stomach problems, blood pressure, lung infection. Imagine what we must be going through living near refineries," Rekha Ghadge, a resident, told NDTV.
Mahul is an industrial area that has factories such as Hindustan Petroleum, Bharat Petroleum, Tata Power and Rashtriya Chemical & Fertilizers.
Some residents also complain they have developed skin rashes. "Mahul is not a place to live. People are falling sick. Even the water provided by civic body contains chemicals," says Parmanand, another resident. He says he and his wife have developed skin infections in last six months.
A study by IIT-Bombay has also questioned the living conditions in Mahul. A Bombay High Court order dated August 2018 also highlights that the air quality in the area is hazardous and infrastructural facilities in the area are inadequate.
Activist Medha Patkar has lent support to the residents' concern "When the High Court has given the order to relocate them, it is the responsibility of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation, the civic body, to follow the order. But state agencies like Mumbai Metropolitan Regional Development Authority and many others have built houses and more than 17,000 such houses are lying empty," she told NDTV.
Apart from health issues, residents also complain about lack of last mile connectivity.
Ajay Yadav, an electrician, says he has stopped going to work. "I can't even go to work now as there is no last mile connectivity in the area. Due to health issues caused by polluted air and water, I can't even get up in morning," he said.
The state government, responding to the civic complaints in a letter, has said a residents' panel will be set up to look into the matter.