The state government may have extended the cut-off date for slum regularisation to 2000 — adding 4 lakh slums to the already regularised 8 lakh — but can they be rehabilitated?
The regularisation implies that these additional slums would be eligible for civic amenities like water and free state-sanctioned houses under the Slum Rehabilitation Scheme (SRS).
But the SRS has been implemented at a snail’s pace. Since its inception in 1996, the Slum Rehabilitation Authority (SRA) has built only 1.2 lakh tenements and another 1.5 lakh are in the pipeline.
SS Zende, the SRA’s chief executive officer, said there would be no strain on the undertaking. “The locations are the same, it’s just that the number of tenements has increased. We were prepared for it,” he said.
Under the SRS, at least 70 per cent of the residents of any slum should agree on a developer to rehabilitate them. The developer, in turn, would get commercial space to sell in the market.
Developers say slum projects are time consuming — it takes at least four years for a project to be completed. “Of these, two years are spent in getting permissions and agreements,” said Babulal Verma, managing director, Omkar Realtors. Omkar has slum projects at Chembur, Vile Parle, Malad and Parel. He said a few vested interests can derail an entire scheme. “Harassment has increased manifold,” said Verma. Critics of the scheme have called the SRS a racket. “The scheme is tailor-made to suit builders, not slum-dwellers. More than half the slum-dwellers sell their houses and move back into slums, defeating the purpose of the scheme,” said town planner Chandrashekhar Prabhu.