Millions of slum dwellers across India could soon aspire to become home owners.
The Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation Ministry is all set to finalize the draft Model Property Rights to Slum Dwellers Bill which, once enacted by states, would for the first time give landless slum-dweller living in an urban area long term legal entitlement to a “dwelling place.”
Besides, the slum dwellers would also be given the right to mortgage their property and raise money from banks to build their house. The ministry has set 15 years as the minimum period for which a property can be given on lease to a slum dweller.
“The final bill will be ready this week. Since it’s a model bill we will circulate it to the states to implement it once we get it approved by the cabinet,” said Ajay Maken soon after taking charge as the new Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation minister on Tuesday.
Maken said that though it’s a model bill, there is a rider that states who do not implement it would not get any monetary incentive under Rajiv Awas Yojana (RAY), the UPA government’s ambitious slum free initiative which was formally launched in 2011.
According to a ministry report, urban slum population in India is expected to cross the 100 million mark by 2017.
The bill also emphasizes that states should give long term property rights to slum dwellers in-situ (at the place where they live). Only in extreme cases when there is no alternative they should be shifted to an alternate area.
Presently, only a handful of states give security of tenure to slum dwellers in limited form. The ministry had finalized the original bill last year and sent it to respective states for implementation. But many states expressed reluctance citing some of the provisions of the bill like giving absolute ownership rights to slum dwellers to a “dwelling place.”
“Following the lukewarm response from states we decided to redraft the original bill. In the revised bill we have replaced the provision of giving absolute property rights to slum dwellers with long term lease,” said a ministry official.
Also to check any new encroachment on government land, the redrafted bill has in place stringent penal provision where encroachers or those constructing illegal structure will face a maximum of three years jail or a minimum fine of Rs one lakh or both.
RAY is being implemented in two phases. The first phase -- which will end in June 2013 – has an outlay of Rs 5,000 crore. Phase- II will run for the remaining period of the 12th Plan.
The ministry has, so far, spent approx. Rs 100 crore. “So far, hardly any state has come forward with concrete slum development projects to avail funds,” said an official.