By January 1, the government intends to get all agencies holding public land to have a definite plan to make their land holdings free of encroachments.
“All authorities like the Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation, the Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority, and the Mumbai Port Trust will have to conduct a survey on the status of slums on their land and find out if they are eligible for rehabilitation. If they are, they will need to see what scheme they can be rehabilitated under. If they are unauthorised, they will have to be razed,” said Sachin Ahir, Minister of State for Housing.
This comes after Chief Minister Ashok Chavan’s ambitious mid-November announcement that he intended to make Maharashtra slum-free.
Ahir also said Slum Rehabi-litation Authority (SRA) projects currently stuck in builder-related conflicts or red tape would soon be sorted out.
“The idea is that once a project gets a Letter Of Intent from the SRA, it is expected to be completed within a maximum of three years. But we are amending this — we will cancel projects that have not taken off and put them out for tendering,” he said.
The Housing Department has also asked the SRA to make a list of builders who get into SRA schemes not to set up legitimate projects but to profit by ensuring these projects get stuck and then broker a settlement.
While the state seems to have some sort of plan to deal with existing encroachments, it has no defined course of action to prevent new slums from coming up.
“It is the work of the civic bodies to take care of that (prevent growth of new slums). So far, not one civic officer has been pulled up or punished for not keeping watch on new slums - it shows the lack of administrative will,” Ahir said.