The Congress-led Maharashtra government’s decision to make legal all slums built before January 1, 2000 will create yet another hurdle for the mega city’s Rs 20,000 crore makeover plan.
The decision, if approved by the Supreme Court, as it as it is hearing a state plea that challenges the Bombay High Court’s ruling that 1995 cut-off date cannot be extended, will facilitate the protection, regularisation and rehabilitation of about four lakh hutments, in which an estimated 20 lakh people stay.
The 1995 cut-off, which was decided by the Shiv Sena-BJP and later ratified by the Congress-NCP government, protects eight lakh hutments.
Over 80 lakh of city’s 1.50 crore population live in the slums because of acute shortage of pucca housing. Some 300 families come to city every day in search of jobs.
Of the protected squatters, 1.2 lakh have been given free homes so far while 1.5 lakh units are under construction. The pace at which these rehabilitation schemes move is likely to delay creation of another 10 lakh free houses.
Architect Hafeez Contractor said: “The politicians have taken undue advantage of tax payers and are giving priority to these freeloaders.”
The Congress and NCP are happy that they kept the promise made in the 2004 manifesto.
Urban planner Chandrashekhar Prabhu hoped that the SC would not approve the government’s application because “any extension will burden city’s infrastructure which is burdened beyond anybody’s imagination.”
A senior officer, who was part of team that presented the proposal to the cabinet on Wednesday, said no study was done on the impact that the protecting slums will have on city’s crumbling infrastructure.
“Our plea before the SC will be based on the shelter-for-all principle. We will also promise that we will balance the rights of both legal and illegal residents,” he said.
The Shiv Sena-headed Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s Mayor Shubha Raul agreed with Prabhu. She said the BMC would have to redesign city’s water supply, sanitation projects, roads and other basic infrastructure that the slum dwellers would share with authorised residents.
A senior Congress leader, who did not want to be identified, said the successive cut off extensions have been encouraging illegal shanties across the city.