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Gaonthans removed from cluster development in Thane

The chief minister’s decision to exclude gaonthans and koliwadas from the cluster development scheme of the Thane Municipal Corporation has come as a major relief for lakhs of residents.

A month ago, those living in gaonthans had staged several protests outside the TMC headquarters, demanding to be excluded from the cluster scheme. They said the scheme would wipe out the identity of the old settlements.

With the CM’s directive, the municipal corporation will now have to revise the 44 Urban Renewal Plans and leave out the gaonthans and koliwadas.

Pramod Nimbalkar, executive engineer of town planning department of TMC, said that of the total 1,509 hectares to be developed under the cluster scheme, gaonthans and koliwadas comprised only 5 per cent of the cluster development scheme. “We will have to revise the 44 urban renewal plan. However, it won’t be a major impact on the scheme,” he said.

The state issued the notification of the cluster development scheme for Thane on July 5 last year.

Following the notification, the corporation had prepared 44 urban renewal plans and invited suggestions and objections from residents.

This led to protests from those living in the old settlements in the city.

They claimed that they will lose their farms and homes in the cluster scheme while the identity of the last few remaining gaonthans will be lost.

Most politicians joined the protest, while the issue was also raised during the monsoon session of the Assembly on Friday.

Chief minister Devendra Fadnavis asked the TMC to remove the gaonthans from the cluster scheme.

Nimbalkar said, “We got more than 17,500 objections on the urban renewal plan, demanding to remove gaonthans and koliwadas from the scheme. We were planning to remove them. The CM has given similar directives, but we have not received them in writing so far.”

“He has also asked to draft a separate development plan for the settlements. We will go through the exact directives of the state once we get it on paper,” said Nimbalkar.

There are 38 gaonthans in the city which have a population of 1.5 lakh people.

The residents had said that the scheme had separate norms for slums, illegal and legal homes, but no separate norms for gaonthans.

Sagar Patil, 32, resident of Waghbil said, “We heard that the CM has announced to exclude gaonthans and koliwadas from the cluster scheme. Until we get it in writing from the authorities, we will not believe it.”

“Moreover, we also want the authorities to set up boundaries for gaonthans. There should be different Developmental Control rules for gaonthans. Our fight will continue till these demands are met,” said Patil.

Some of the gaonthans and koliwadas in Thane include Mogharpada, Waghbil, Kolshet, Kasarvadavli, Ovala, Koliwada, Balkum, Vitawa, Chendani Koliwada, Kharegaon and Dokali.

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