The state government was forced to go on the backfoot over its plan to regularise illegal residents of the Mhada transit camps and the illegal sale of tenements in slum rehabilitation units, ahead of the civic polls. After the housing, law and judiciary departments cited court orders against such a move and advised changes in the existing laws, the government has now appointed a cabinet sub-committee of six ministers to finalise the modalities.
The state cabinet discussed the proposal to regularise around 15,000 tenants in slum rehabilitation buildings after they were found to have illegally purchased the houses from the original tenants living in redeveloped slums. The rehabilitation tenements are not allowed to be sold for 10 years after possession. Of the 82,000 rehabilitation tenements across the city, more than 15,000 are illegally purchased.
The cabinet was considering regularising such illegal tenants by charging them a penalty at the existing ready reckoner rate. The housing department was also considering bringing down a lock-in period to five years.
Similarly, the cabinet was also considering rehabilitating illegal tenants — termed ‘intruders’— in 40 Mhada transit camps across the city. There are more than 8,400 such tenants, who have either been illegally occupying the tenements or have purchased them illegally. As many of them have been living in inhumane conditions for more than two decades, the government has proposed regularising them.
“In both these cases, the existing laws are strictly against regularisation. Section 3(e) of the Maharashtra Slum Areas Act clearly states the rehabilitation units are not allowed to be gifted, transferred or sold for 10 years. Of the 1,500 tenants, many have been facing eviction notices served by the Slum Rehabilitation Authority. Similarly, the regularisation of the illegal transit tenants is also not advisable,” said an official from the home department. The official said the Bombay high court orders and opinions from the law and judiciary departments are against any such move. The committee may now suggest amending the existing Act.
The committee is headed by housing minister Prakash Mehta and comprises five other ministers — Vinod Tawde, Diwakar Raote, Ravindra Waikar, Ravindra Chavan and Vidya Thakur. “Our endeavour would be regularising these tenants by recovering particular charges from them,” Mehta said.