Mumbai: The Uttarakhand disaster has brought dangerous hilly areas into focus. Mumbai itself has around 32 hills with many slums dangerously balanced on its slopes. The RTI information showed that though the state has marked around 10,000 of these slum dwellings too unsafe, many continue to live in danger.
On July 26, 2005 a portion of the hill in Sakinaka came crashing down and had killed 74 people in a landslide. In every monsoon since then, landslides take place and many people living in these slums lose their lives. The plans to rehabilitate residents still remain stuck in red tape.
Amir Ali Ansari who had lost his wife and three children when their home was crushed continues to live in danger. "The government has given me a flat to live in, it is approved, all that remains is giving me the key. But they don't do that," he said.
Activist Anil Galgali said people will lose their lives as things remain same every year. "We saw what happened in Uttarakhand. The same thing happens here every year, and more people will lose their lives as long as the government turns a blind eye," he said.
Information obtained through the RTI shows that 327 hilly areas with 22,483 hutments in Mumbai have been classified as dangerous. Out of this, 9,657 hutments have been deemed to be in grave danger and need to be shifted urgently. For the remaining, authorities have suggested building retaining walls around the hills. But at many of these locations, especially Sakinaka, no such walls have been built. An estimated 200 people have lost their lives in landslides in the last 10 years.
Even after the Maharashtra Chief Minister ordered an action plan for rehabilitation, authorities continue to wrangle over which agency should oversee these hillside slums.
Every time it rains here, residents anticipate death and destruction. Just a few days ago, a boulder rolled down, crushing a vehicle beneath it. Although the government said it has spent close to Rs 200 crore on constructing retaining walls to fortify these hilly areas, there is no protection whatsoever from nature's fury.