Opposition walk-out over demand of free houses to mill workers

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Nagpur, Nov 27 (UNI) The entire opposition in the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly staged a walkout during question hour today raising slogans demanding free dwelling units to workers of defunct textile mills in Mumbai.

The opposition staged the walkout after Minister for Finance Jayant Patil said in reply to supplementaries on a question from Datta Nalawade (Shiv Sena) and others that the government had decided to recover the construction cost of the units from the beneficiaries.

The beneficiaries would be given a subsidy of Rs one lakh each in the cost from the funds to be released by the Centre under the Jawaharlal Nehru Urban Renewal Mission (JNURM), he said.

The decision had been made in a meeting with representatives of workers' unions of the mills concerned, Mr Patil said. The opposition was making a demand for free houses when the workers themselves did not want them, he said.

However, the minister's reply failed to satisfy the opposition members, who said this was contrary to the scheme announced by the government earlier, and trooped into the well of the House raising slogans before walking out. The government would implement a scheme of providing free houses in the Kohinoor Mill premises in the metropolis on an experimental basis and then replicate the model elsewhere, Mr Patil quipped as the opposition members were leaving the House.

Earlier, Mr Patil, who was standing in for Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh, who holds the department with which the question was related but is in Nashik in view of the President's visit there, said that the government had ordered construction work stopped on 16 mill lands in Mumbai as the owners had not handed over the area necessary for constructing dwelling units for the workers. Of the 16, seven had initiated the process of handing over the land, the minister said.

Admitting that some mill owners had handed over land that was unsuitable for construction, Mr Patil said that the government had asked Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) to club all such pieces of land together and allot a consolidated piece of land in lieu to the government, and treat the original plots as open spaces.

The government had formed a committee headed by the Principal Secretary (Housing) and including representatives of workers' unions to decide the eligibility for allocation of dwelling units for employees of defunct mills in Mumbai, he added.


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