With elections barely a few months away, the Congress-led Delhi government is keen on pushing ahead its plan to construct low-cost housing for slums dwellers. But there is a hurdle — the government does not have enough land to construct these 4 lakh dwelling units.
The flats that were supposed to be constructed under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) is seen as a major sop for the traditional Congress vote bank - something that may consolidate the party's chances in Delhi in the Lok Sabha elections.
On Wednesday, the Delhi government conveyed its concerns to the Union Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation Ministry. "We have told them that until we get more land, we cannot do anything," said Delhi chief secretary Rakesh Mehta.
The Delhi government has been lobbying rather hard for cornering more land so that a substantial number of such low cost living units are ready in the next few months. "We have built 10,000 such units, but building further is difficult as we do not have land," said Mehta, who added that the government had taken the matter up with the Union Urban Development Ministry and at meeting with the Union Cabinet Secretary on Saturday.
Officials add the flats were stuck as most of the land was under different agencies or facing litigation. A substantial chunk of land the government was trying to acquire had been rendered out of bounds by a PIL pending in court against Gram Sabha land (village land) being used for housing.
The government said an urban shelter improvement board must be set up that would basically take over the responsibilities currently vested with the MCD's slum wing —a demand the agency sees as an attempt to dilute its powers.