'Free housing scheme encourages encroachment and corruption' | india | Hindustan Times
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'Free housing scheme encourages encroachment and corruption'

india Updated: Feb 08, 2007 22:18 IST
Urvi Jappi
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The common tax payers' money is being squandered by the government in providing "free housing" to the slum dwellers which only encourages migration into the city and further encroachment on government land and open spaces.

This is the grievance raised by Forum for Improving Quality of Life in Mumbai Suburbs (FIQLMS), a forum of residents in their letter to the Chief Justice of the Bombay High Court which was converted into a suo moto public interest litigation (PIL).

FIQLMS has raised the concern over the gross misuse of their monies collected as "property and other forms of taxes" after several scams under the slum rehabilitation schemes were reported recently.

The letter states that there is a loss of trillions of rupees of the tax payers and also loss of revenue in the form of property and other taxes to the government if the houses are provided for free. Besides, such free housing policy has promoted huge influx of migrants for getting free houses, said Leena Prabhoo, vice chair person of the FIQLMS. 

The free housing policy has also encouraged encroachment on all public places like footpath, under the bridges, inside drainage pipes, on top of the water pipelines, open spaces reserved for civic amenities and along side river and canals, states their letter.

"This has not just created ecological imbalance in the city by destruction of mangroves at several places in the city, but has also devastated the quality of life of citizens here," adds Prabhoo. Such situations have led to shortage of water and electric supply.

The free scheme has promoted rampant corruption in various government sectors. 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.

The letter prays that the government should be made answerable to the citizens on the above issues and also see that there is pressure on the Anti-Corruption Bureau to bring the culprits to book.

Instead of providing free ownership houses, the slum dwellers can be provided with low rent houses as there have been cases where the slum dwellers sell the free house provided to them and go back to slums, said Prabhoo.

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

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