Maharashtra Government doubled fees/penalty for over stay in police colony from Rs 25 Sq feet to Rs 50 Sq Feet.
Mumbai: Sea view, swanky 2-bedroom flats for cops
"Even during festivals, when our relatives used to visit us, the male members of the family used to sleep either in the common passage or the terrace to accommodate the guests,” he adds.
POLICE SUB-INSPECTOR Raghunath Namdev Gadhave has just moved into a new residence. While shifting homes is routine for a government servant, this time the sea breeze that blows through his home indicates a sea change in his life. “Ab lagta hai waqt badlega (Time is about to change),” he says as he winds the clock in the living room of his sea-facing home.
Leaking roofs, walls with paint peeling off, even flooring, and unkempt toilets are now a thing of the past as the new homes constructed to accommodate the police constabulary are swanky 2 BHKs with modern amenities like grilled windows, wall-hung western commodes to vitrified tiling in the entire house, to list a few.
“Fourteen members of my family lived in a cramped 180 sqft apartment in Worli Police Colony for over 26 years. The one-room apartment was plagued with many problems. Everyday after work, I had to spend around an hour either fixing the roof or ensuring there was enough water for the next day,” Gadhave, who is attached with the Colaba traffic division, told The Indian Express.
“In such a small place, we couldn’t host any lunches or dinners. Even during festivals, when our relatives used to visit us, the male members of the family used to sleep either in the common passage or the terrace to accommodate the guests,” he adds.
Not just Raghunath, his son Nitin, 29, a constable with the traffic department, too has been allotted a flat, that too adjacent to his father’s in Worli in South Mumbai. Little wonder then, the Gadhaves took only a few hours to shift.
“As soon as we got the keys, we visited the home along with family members. I could see the happiness on my wife’s face. She just couldn’t thank her luck. Within a few hours, we shifted to our new home,” he says.
A new sofa set made of cane, window curtains and a LED TV on the wall adorn the living room of the Gadhaves. They say it is work in progress.
“Every month, we allot a small budget for furnishing our home. We have drawn up a list of items we plan to buy. Only then the home will match the spectacular view it offers,” Raghunath says as he watches the sun go down in the Arabian Sea from his bedroom balcony. “The first thing I will buy from my husband’s next salary is a rocking chair, so that I can enjoy the view while knitting a sweater for my grandson,” Raghunath’s wife says.
Gadhaves are one of the beneficiaries of the ambitious police housing project. While the houses constructed for constables are of 450 sqft with two bedrooms, the ones for sub-inspectors are of 550 sqft with 2.5 bedrooms. Officers of DSP rank and above will get 3-bedroom houses of 770 sqft.
The Maharashtra State Police Housing and Welfare Corporation plans to construct around 20,000 houses by the end of this year. “By the end of July, we plan to hand over quarters to around 6,000 policemen and, by the end of the year, to 20,000 policemen,” said a senior official.
While 60 per cent of the nearly 2.5-lakh force requires homes, by the end of this year the MSPHWC would be able to accommodate a chunk of it.
“While we will be able to provide homes for nearly 30 per cent of the force by the end of this year, the government is also taking help from the PWD and MHADA, which will also construct homes for policemen,” the official added.
To avail these homes, cops have to let go of their HRA and pay a minimum rent ranging from Rs 3,000 to Rs 8,000 depending on their ranks. The MSPHWC is also planning to spend around Rs 1,500 crore towards housing. While the state corporation has Rs 600 crore, it has availed a Rs 900 crore loan from HUDCO limited for construction of police houses.
“For a constable, a house is the most important thing after carrying out long duties at work. If the conditions back home are filthy, not only will it demoralise the men but also pose a risk to their health issues. If he is given a house which has two bedrooms with modern amenities, he and his children will get a psychological uplift and his children will aspire to grow bigger than that in future,” former IPS officer Arup Patnaik, who retired as the DG, MSPHWC, told The Indian Express. Patnaik played a pivotal role in ensuring that it sees the light of the day. “We are not offering a home to the children of our policemen. We are selling them a dream,” Patnaik said.