Mumbai: Razing of Diva chawls suspended

Mumbai: Thousands of angry Diva residents came out on the streets to protested the proposed demolition of their unauthorised chawls on Tuesday, forcing the district collector to call off the move.

These chawls have been built on land cleared by illegally destroying mangroves. Following the Bombay High Court's directions, on Tuesday, officials from the collectorate reached the spot for taking action.

However, thousands of residents gathered, blocking their path. The situation became tense and to prevent matters from escalating, the authorities stalled the demolition for few more days.

According to affected tenants, they were seeking more time so that they could appeal to the court. If the court remains firm in its decision on the demolition of these houses, the residents want the authorities to give them some time to shift to an alternative place.

The issue had come to the fore after a public interest litigation was filed in the Bombay HC over the growing illegal construction activity on restricted mangrove land in Diva.

The petitioner informed the court that several chawls and buildings had been built by cutting down mangroves in Sabe village in Diva. This village has nearly one thousand illegal structures.

Following the court's direction, the Thane district collector had asked the tenants to vacate their houses by December 9 or action would be taken. Banners announcing the decision were also put by the authorities.

Earlier too, similar action had been taken by the Thane Municipal Corporation. Although the demolition was halted on Tuesday, residents are aware that this is just temporary relief.