Will the government’s nod to resettle slums on the Mumbai Port Trust (MbPT) land through the slum rehabilitation authority (SRA) provide a backdoor entry to builders?
A day after Union shipping minister Nitin Gadkari announced the decision to resettle slums on port land, questions are being raised over the implications of the move. While most experts agree that slum residents need to be resettled, they wonder if the SRA model, under which a private builder will have to resettle the slum in exchange for prime space that he can develop and sell, is the best option.
“We will have to give away prime space and allow builders a sale component through the SRA. Why should we part with public land and allow builders to take over,” asked Aneerudha Paul, director of Kamla Raheja Vidyanidhi Institute of Architecture, who has co-authored a detailed study on the possibilities in developing the eastern waterfront.
Pankaj Joshi, executive director of Urban Design Research Institute, who was a part of the shipping ministry-appointed land development committee (LDC), said adopting the SRA model will be a problem.
“The model, as it exists, doesn’t make sense. There must, instead, be a larger plan to rehouse all slum-dwellers in a holistic way, closer to transport facilities. This will ensure they don’t live very close to ship-breaking yards or coal depots,” he said.
A day after Gadkari’s announcement, the Mumbai Port Trust dock and general employees union, the largest union in MbPT, has now renewed their demand for homes for port employees on port land.
“Now that the government is resettling all slums, it must make space for port trust employees. These employees have worked hard to make Mumbai a premier port city and giving them permanent homes would be a fitting tribute to their contribution,” said Sudhakar
Apraj, general secretary of the union and a trustee on the MbPT board.
Currently, the port trust has staff quarters over 120 acres, according to the estimates of the port trust. “However, these are only service quarters for 7,000 of the total 10,000-odd employees. We have demanded that all serving employees be given permanent homes and it should be
gradually extended to retired employees,” said Maruti Vishwasrao, secretary of the union.