While chief minister Devendra Fadnavis has directed the slum rehabilitation authority (SRA) to acquire the plots of the top five landowners in the city, if they fail to rehabilitate the slum dwellers living there, the track record of the government on this front has been far from impressive.
So far, only three such proposals have been implemented, even as 41 proposals are awaiting the nod from the state.
SRA officials claim acquisition is a time-consuming process, which involves several steps such as issuing notices, conducting hearings and getting the state nod. The process gets further delayed, if the owners move court. “It takes at least four years to get the plot. It takes some more time for the project to kick off,” said an official.
The SRA’s list of 41 plots, admeasuring 1 lakh sqm, which have been lying vacant for the past one year and whose market cost could run into hundreds of crores, is yet to be approved. The three plots housing 275 slums, which have been able to get green light, are located in Bandra, Bhandup and Lower Parel.
According to an official, acquisition can be expedited on the chief minister’s orders. “The chief minister needs to clear files quickly. After waiting for many years, slum dwellers get tired, lose interest and the whole scheme is eventually shelved,” said another official.
Redeveloping the slums on the plots owned by the trusts — FE Dinshaw Trust, AH Wadia Charitable Trust, Byramjee Jeejeebhoy Properties, VK Lal Investments Private Limited, and Sir Mohammad Yusuf Khot Trust — could help 4 lakh slum dwellers get new homes and generate a housing stock.
Nirmalkumar Deshmukh, CEO, SRA, said, “The basic aim is to provide decent houses to the slum dwellers.”
While the spokesperson of FE Dinshaw Trust refused to comment, Byramjee Jeejeebhoy Properties denied having slums on their land.
Around 20 societies of slum dwellers such as the Santoshi Mata Gruhanirman Housing Society and Pancharatna Gruhanirman Housing Society of Malad had petitioned the SRA to acquire the land. “We want the state to hasten the process,” said Upendra Pandey, chief promoter, Santoshi Mata Gruhanirman Housing Society.
The SRA will now undertake a survey of the hutments.