Migrants to the city have never had it this easy. Those who have moved in before January 2011 can also be eligible to a free 300 sq feet home in the city. The largesse is courtesy the Congress-NCP government, which tweaked the slum housing policies on Tuesday.
The fine print of the state government's decision to change eligibility criteria for `legal' slum dwellers has cleared decks for newcomers to own a free home as long as they are currently occupying an old slum structure dating back to 1995 or 2000 [in case of vital infrastructure projects like Dharavi].
The housing department's resolution detailing the fine print of the decision points out that new occupants of old slums have to only prove that they have been residing in the structure for at least a year. This decision renders the earlier cut-offs virtually redundant. The 1995 and 2000 cut-offs meant that slum-dwellers who moved to the city after these dates would not be eligible for the state's free housing schemes.
The current occupants of old slums will have to show transfer deeds, besides proving their one-year stay by submitting bills of public utilities or a ration card. They will also have to pay a nominal transfer fee of Rs40,000 to authorities; slums which are commercial structures will have to pay Rs60,000 as transfer fee.
Government estimates state that there are around 7.5 lakh pre-1995 shanties, with at least as many families adding up to nearly 37 lakh residents.
The decision could bring in an electoral windfall for the Congress in the upcoming civic elections. Congress party legislators had been lobbying hard for extending slum cut off to 2000. However, mandarins in the state secretariat were not keen on the extension after the Bombay high court ruled against it. By tweaking the rules and
giving protection to the slum structures, state officials have now found a way around the problem.
Bhagvanji Raiyani of the Janhit Manch, in whose petition the high court ruled that the slum cut-off should not be extended further, termed the decision as "appeasement of vote bank" that went against the grain of the court order.
"The state government's special leave petition in the supreme court is still pending and the high court order has not been set aside. In this backdrop, the government's decision is totally illegal and I will complain to the apex court about this," Raiyani said.