The state government wants to speed up the process of clearing slums from the city.
Chief Minister Ashok Chavan on Thursday announced that the slums will be cleared in a time-bound manner. A timetable will be worked out to rehabilitate the slum dwellers and house them in new apartments.
“We need to speed up rehabilitation projects because these take years to complete. A timetable can be worked out to avoid such delays,” said Chavan. “I have instructed my officials to prepare a detailed schedule for this.”
Chavan was speaking on the occasion of the inauguration of the new headquarters of the Slum Rehabilitation Authority (SRA) at Bandra. Sixty per cent of the city’s population--84 lakh people--lives in slums. However, only 1.37 lakh slum dwellers have moved to new homes so far, while another 2.5 lakh houses are in the pipeline.
Chavan also spoke against the mushrooming of slums in Mumbai. “We will not allow this international city to be defaced,” Chavan said, adding that Mantralaya will keep a close watch on the situation and pull up officials found encouraging illegal structures. “We will be monitoring the situation through satellite photos and action will be taken against senior officials of both the police and civic department if they fail to check the growth of slums,” he said. When told that not a single officer has been punished since 1995 when then chief minister Manohar Joshi decided to crack the whip, Chavan said, “We will do what the Joshi government failed to do.” Opposition leader Eknath Khadse called it a mere announcement. “The state is good at making big announcements but there is absolutely nothing on the ground,” said Khadse. “They have been ruling for years but could not tackle this issue.” The SRA scheme has been moving slowly since its inception in 1996 due to allegations of corruption, manipulations by builders, political interference and red tapism.
Khadse blamed the state for these problems. “Builders are being favoured and slum dwellers are left in the lurch,” Khadse said.