By Manoj More
Eleven-year-old Sharad Goekar might have won a national award for his reel-life histrionics in Marathi film Tingya, but in real life his family is fighting for a place to live in. The family, comprising parents and six children, has been moving from one temporary shelter to another for years and currently stays in a ramshackle tent erected along the Mumbai-Vishakapatnam highway at Rajuri village in Junar taluka of Pune district. “Sharad has received many awards for Tingya, one from President Pratibha Patil. We don’t have a permanent place to eat and sleep; where will we keep this latest award?” asks his mother Yamunabai.
Sharad belongs to the Dhangar community, a nomadic tribe originally from Ahmednagar district. After the success of Tingya, he was taken into Sinhagad Spring Dale English medium school and adopted by a family. “We continue to live in pathetic conditions. Only when our financial condition improves will we be really happy. Otherwise, more awards will only pose the problem of finding a safe place to keep them,” says his father Yeshwant Goekar.
The search for finding a proper living place has already begun. Shirur MP Shivajirao Adhalrao-Patil, in whose parliamentary constituency Ale Phata falls, says he is determined to provide Sharad and his family a decent dwelling place.
“Sharad has brought glory to Maharashtra. The entire nation is singing his praises. Despite hailing from a very poor family, Sharad has shown his class to the world. But it is painful to see a skilled child with no place to live,” he says, adding that he will try to get a readymade house or build one from the MP’s fund.
The other possibility, says the MP, is a flat for Sharad in Pimpri-Chinchwad where many have been earmarked for the poor under the Centre’s Basic Services For Urban Poor (BSUP) policy. “Pimpri-Chinchwad is part of my Shirur constituency. I have every right to demand a house for Sharad. I will talk to civic officials,” he said, adding that he will personally meet the PCMC chief on Thursday.
The Manav Suraksha Haqq Samiti too is getting into the act, writing to Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Commissioner Asheesh Sharma for a house for the Goekars. “The family lives in Pune district. Either the PMC or PCMC should take the initiative,” said Manav Kamble of the samiti.
“I have already spoken to the commissioner about this. He said he will have to seek the government’s permission before allotting a flat,” adds Maruti Bhapkar, also of the samiti. The PCMC is constructing over 30,000 flats for the poor.
Sharma said though there was no provision under BSUP to provide housing to someone for having received a national film award, something could be done if the state government agreed. Mayor Aparna Doke said there should no objection from anybody to giving a flat from the thousands that PCMC is constructing.