The poor track record of the various slum rehabilitation projects in the city, only 24% of which have been completed, has jolted the Slum Rehabilitation Authority into action. The authority has now started taking stock of the pending projects to expedite them.
Of the total 2,395 projects approved since the body was set up, only 597 schemes have been executed so far, with 1.53 lakh slumdwellers rehabilitated. The SRA projects aim to give bigger, better homes to slumdwellers, free of cost, but the scheme has invited a lot of opposition, including allegations of being designed to favour builders, and several projects have been either derailed or stuck in litigation.
Chief executive officer of the SRA, Nirmalkumar Deshmukh, said the stock-taking exercise could accelerate the scheme. “It will help us understand why the schemes have not been executed and what difficulties are being faced in implementation of the projects,” he said. If builders who are assigned the project are found to be disinterested, notices will be issued to them and their permissions will be cancelled.
Officials said many errant builders, despite getting the mandatory 70% consent from slumdwellers and the SRA, have not begun work on the project for decades. Many of these are small-time builders or brokers, who sell the project to bigger builders. Moreover, infighting among slumdwellers about the project delays execution. The consent clause, in particular, has always been at the centre of controversy, as slumdwellers allege that their signatures are fudged by builders.
Builders too have welcomed the SRA move. “Such steps will force builders to start work and also help increase the housing stock,” said Sunil Mantri, Chairman, Real Estate Committee (Indian Merchants Chambers) and Managing Director, Sunil Mantri Realty Ltd.