Union minister for housing and poverty alleviation Ajay Maken has slammed the state government for their delayed decisions on slum housing policies and apathy towards urban poor.
Following a meeting with a delegation led by social activist Medha Patkar over the slum demolitions in Mumbai, Maken, on Tuesday, wrote a letter to chief minister and state housing minister Prithviraj Chavan. In his letter, he questioned the state government’s delay in the implementation of the Rajiv Awas Yojana, a central government scheme aimed at creating slum-free India.
Patkar had pointed out that the state government had notified 19 areas as slums in May 2011, which would ensure that they got funds for creating basic amenities under the scheme. They are to notify 21 areas as slums, the process for which is incomplete.
Maken pointed out that the central scheme takes any household clusters with a population of 300, where the conditions are slum-like, into account. “It is ironical that majority of slums remain unreached for extending even basic minimum civic services and have to depend on the bureaucratic exercise of declaration of slums,” states the letter.
Maken pointed out that in the absence of the notification, private builders take advantage of the slum rehabilitation scheme to grab land and forcibly evict slum dwellers.
He also stated that his ministry had released Rs. 944.6 lakh as the first installment to the state for initial survey work in 18 cities, but the progress in Maharashtra ‘is slow’.
He said that while many other state governments had come up with pilot projects under the scheme and even allotted funds for it, the initiative was lacking in Maharashtra. He requested Chavan to stop slum demolitions till the process of notifying slums gets completed and said that police force should not be used for such eviction drives.
“We had requested against these inhuman slum demolitions, but, it is unfortunate that despite the union housing minister’s intervention, chief minister has taken no cognisance and slum demolitions continue,” said Patkar.