The Maharashtra government is taking inspiration from the Centre for a concrete plan to safeguard the housing rights of its urban poor.
The government, which is in the process rehabilitating slums across the state, is studying the Union government’s Housing for All (HFA) scheme to develop an effective housing initiative of its own.
Sources said the process of overhauling the slum rehabilitation authority (SRA) is on and it will include inputs from HFA. The Centre’s scheme envisages a home for all by 2022 and has proposed various models under which it could provide funds for slum rehabilitation.
The move to have a scheme comes after repeated demands by housing rights activists. Last month, led by activist Medha Patkar, the residents of Mandala village in Mankhurd have been protesting against the delay in rehabilitating them. They are also demanding a new scheme for housing the urban poor. Mandala had been short-listed for rehabilitation through the Rajiv Awas Yojana formulated by the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government. However, the scheme was scrapped after the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) came to power.
After SRA’s failure, the housing department is now studying the HFA, which was approved by the Cabinet last week. Ironically, the department is worried if the scheme will be able to ‘attract’ builders, especially in Mumbai.
A senior official of the housing department said, “Slum rehabilitation has to happen through builders because we don’t have as many resources to do it ourselves. We may not be able to make it as attractive as SRA is for builders in Mumbai, but outside Mumbai, we could possibly take inputs and develop it.”
Another bureaucrat said the state government was keen on utilising the Centre’s funds. “We have a serious housing crisis emerging in our tier-2 cities and that is where HFA would come into use. We need more innovative models of slum rehabilitation and we believe that HFA could show us the way,” the official added.
* Maharashtra has the most number of slum dwellers across the country, pegged to be at 11.87 million, according to the 2011 Census
* The state has 14.76% of the total number of slum dwellers in India
* The state has been unable to ensure smoother rehabilitation of these slums
* Instead of meeting its target of housing eight lakh families in five years from 1995, the SRA has been only able to rehabilitate one lakh families in 20 years
Thousands of residents of Mandala village in Mankhurd have been on an agitation since May 24, demanding rehabilitation on a 13-acre plot that they were living in for years. They were evicted following a drive in 2005-06.
The residents had even managed to get an approval for their colony to be rehoused under the Rajiv Awas Yojana, only for the NDA government to scrap the scheme in itself. The residents, along with activist Medha Patkar, have been on an ‘occupy’ form of satyagraha