Congress and NCP legislators in Mumbai are in no mood to let the issue of free housing for slumdwellers and project-affected structures be delayed further and want the state government to extend the cut-off eligibility from 1995 to 2000.
At a meeting on Tuesday with chief minister Prithviraj Chavan to discuss Mumbai’s pending issues, the 26 legislators were clear this was on top of their agenda, considering that the civic elections are less than a year away and slumdwellers account for more than 60% of the city’s population.
Most slumdwellers are traditionally seen as Congress-NCP voters. Chavan assured the legislators that the government would consider it.
“Our government had declared this as part of our election manifesto and it is unfair to not keep our promises. The CM has said he would examine this demand and a meeting is scheduled next week,” said NCP legislator from Anushakti Nagar, Nawab Malik, who attended the meeting.
Legislators explained to Chavan that there could not be two rules for such settlements in the same city. In special projects like the Mumbai Urban Infrastructure Project, the Bandra-Kurla Complex and Mumbai airport, where a special agreement was made with the World Bank, the cut-off year for project affected and slumdwellers is 2000.
“We said this violated the right to equality,” Malik added.
A Chembur legislator suggested commercial establishments in slums be included too. Chavan has reportedly said the matter is pending in court.
In 2006, a public interest litigation (PIL) was filed by Janhit Manch, against the extension, and the HC upheld the 1995 cut-off date. But the government challenged the decision in the SC.
Bandra Congress legislator Baba Siddiqui said, “We need to amend our laws and tell the court of our intention. If it is unconstitutional, they will reject it.” Bhagwanji Rayani who filed the PIL on behalf of the Janhit Manch said the SC has asked for all the case papers from the HC.
“But, the government should see how much they have been able to keep up with their 1995 cut-off date decision. The government should not indulge in vote bank politics,” Rayani told HT .