Several people have assembled near an open government plot in Vikhroli area of Mumbai following rumours of land being provided free of cost to the poor, officials said on Monday. Civic authorities and police removed them from the spot, but they are still staying put in the vicinity in the hope of getting free land, they said.
More than 500 people, including women, from the city and neighbouring Thane and Navi Mumbai gathered over the last 20 days at the government plot spread in several acres on JVLR Link Road in Tagore Nagar of Vikhroli. These people started earmarking 300 to 400 square feet areas for themselves with bamboo sticks, cloth pieces and other material, an official from Vikhroli police station said.
This happened after some rumours spread that the government was distributing land for free. There were also rumours that the daughter of a wealthy man was giving away land free of cost to poor people in the memory of her father, who died recently, the official said. However, when authorities at the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), police and local administration came to know about it, they went to the spot and removed these people and their material on Saturday and Sunday, he said.
In the last 20 days, the BMC has removed people from the spot three times, but they are not ready to leave and have gathered on a road next to the land, the official said. Police also brought a few of these people to local police station and warned them, but they are still not listening, the official said.
So far, the Vikhroli police have not received any complaint from the BMC, collector or the Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (MHADA). Hence, no case has been registered against anyone, the official said. Meanwhile, another police official said the rumour- mongering began after MHADA authorities last month demolished some 18 shanties from the Khaitan Compound adjacent to the open plot in question.
However, on the purported intervention of some local politicians, the authorities asked the evicted people to rebuild their shanties in the Khaitan Compound, he said. The official said these evicted people then informed their acquaintances and relatives claiming that the government was allowing to build shanties on the open plot, triggering rush.