The civic body has revoked its controversial order that allowed civic plots to be redeveloped as slums, thus preventing the sale of public plots to private builders at meagre amounts. The order was passed, after residents and activists protested against the categorization of a plot in Juhu, which houses conservancy workers, as slum.
If the proposal had gone through, developers would have been able to redevelop civic plots under the controversial slum redevelopment scheme by declaring them slums and make windfall profits, said senior officials. According to sources in the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), builders planned to use the scheme for more than 30 plots across the city, which house conservancy staffers.
Last month, civic chief Sitaram Kunte scrapped the nod given to a private builder in 2009, to redevelop a prime 1.4-acre civic property through a scheme of the slum rehabilitation authority (SRA). HT has a copy of Kunte’s directions to scrap the order. While Kunte refused to speak, sources in his office confirmed that the order was sent out.
Incidentally, chief minister Devendra Fadanavis, while in the Opposition, was one of the biggest critics of this controversial order and had written to the BMC chief last year, alleging violation of norms and demanding the permission be revoked.
The plot in Juhu lane currently consists of 56 tenements housing civic conservancy workers. The 2009 order by the BMC came after a private builder, in 2008, submitted a proposal to redevelop this plot by amalgamating it with an existing slum rehabilitation scheme on an adjacent plot. So, the civic body’s K-West ward, which covered the area, got the plot declared as a municipal slum in 2009. In addition to the 56 residential tenements that the civic body owns, the developer had proposed to hand over 600 tenements to project-affected people. However, an inquiry by the collector later revealed the plot was not owned by the developer, but was by the state.
Several local activists and corporators had protested against the decision. “This was just another way of allowing private players to grab public plots at throwaway prices. We are glad this has been stopped.” said Haider Imam from Ghar Banao Ghar Bachao andolan, who has been pursuing the case.
The scheme also conferred the ownership rights on the civic staff residing in these 56 tenements. “This would have been a first for us. The order would have set a precedent for other civic properties to be declared as slum,” said a senior civic official.