The Maharashtra government, it seems, has finally woken up to slum situation in the state. It has decided to carry out a detailed study and redevelop slums in 24 cities.
For the first time, under the aegis of the Rajiv Awas Yojana (RAY), a Centre-funded scheme, there will be a survey of the slums — mapping them using state-of-the-art technology, preparing a socio-economic survey of the dwellers and also a detailed plan to develop it.
Talking to the Hindustan Times, Gautam Chatterjee, state housing secretary, said: “It will be a comprehensive survey covering all aspects of the slums.”
Twenty-four cities in the state will be covered under the scheme. According to estimates, there are 27 lakh slums in the state with a population of more than 1.40 crore. The Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR), which consists of Mumbai and its satellite towns, has 15 lakh slums with 75 lakh slumdwellers.
Except Maharashtra no other state has set up a cut-off date for regularisation of slums. The cut-off year of 1995 was extended to 2000, but is caught in legal tangle. This deadline does not apply to those who have created slums on central government land and hence there have been no schemes to rehabilitate them.
In the state, there are about 2 lakh slumdwellers on land owned by railways, Mumbai Port Trust and central public works department, of which 1 lakh are in the MMR region. “We have represented our case repeatedly to the Centre and they have shown a positive response,” said Sachin Ahir, state minister for housing.
Since its inception 14 years ago, the Slum Rehabilitation Authority scheme has rehabilitated 1.20 lakh slumdwellers. Another 1.50 lakh houses are being constructed in the city. An inquiry report by former municipal commissioner, late SS Tinaikar, had called it a scheme tailor-made to suit the interests of builders.
“We are in process of weeding out vested interests as well as blacklisting of errant builders,” said Ahir.
Jockin Arputham, founder of the National Slum Dwellers Federation in India, said: “The scheme is good as large number of slums are on central government land. And the RAY scheme will not cover slums on central government land.”