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Do away with free-housing policy: residents

After several scams were reported, the FIQLMS has raised the issue of 'gross misuse of money collected as property and other forms of taxes', reports Urvi Jappi.

india Updated: Feb 08, 2007 22:42 IST
Urvi Jappi

The taxpayers' money is being squandered by the government in providing free housing to slumdwellers as this only encourages migration into the city and encroachment on government land and open spaces.

This is the grievance voiced out by Forum for Improving Quality of Life in Mumbai Suburbs (FIQLMS), a forum of residents, in their letter to the Chief Justice.

The letter was converted into suo moto public interest litigation (PIL).

After several scams under the slum rehabilitation schemes were reported, the FIQLMS has raised the issue of "gross misuse of money collected as property and other forms of taxes."
 
As houses are given away for free, there is loss of trillions of rupees of taxpayers, states the letter.

Lured by the free-housing policy, hordes of migrants are making their way into the city, said Leena Prabhoo, vice-chairperson of the FIQLMS.

The free-housing policy has also encouraged encroachment on all public places such as footpath, under the bridges, inside drainage pipes, on top of the water pipelines, open spaces reserved for civic amenities and along river and canals, it added.

"This has not only created an ecological imbalance in the city through destruction of mangroves at several places, but has also affected the quality of life of citizens here," adds Prabhoo.

This has led to shortage of water and power supply.
The free scheme has led to rampant corruption. Builders have inflated the number of tenants eligible for relocation to acquire more Floor Space Index (FSI), states the letter which is now a PIL seeking scrapping of the present SRA scheme.

They have also offered a solution. Instead of giving free ownership houses, the slumdwellers can be provided with low-rent houses as there have been cases where slumdwellers sell the free house and stay in slums, said Prabhoo.

The letter prays that the government should be made answerable to the citizens and also sees that the Anti-Corruption Bureau brings the culprits to book.

A division bench of the Acting Chief Justice HL Gokhale and Justice VM Kanade has directed the Maharashtra Government and the Maharashtra Housing, Area Development Authority (Mhada) and the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) to file their reply by February 21.

Email Urvi Jappi: Urvi.jappi@hindustantimes.com