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Developers sceptical about Maharashtra government’s decision on separate SRA units

The state needs to address the fundamental problems first to get tangible results, feel developers and activists

mumbai Updated: Mar 26, 2018 14:32 IST
Naresh Kamath
Naresh Kamath
Hindustan Times
SRA scheme,Redevelopment in Mumbai,Maharashtra government
The SRA scheme, started in 1996, has been mired in corruption and host of other issues.(HT FILE)

Will state government’s move to create a separate Slum Rehabilitation Authority (SRA) and CEOs for the island city, suburbs and Thane, fasten the slum clearance schemes which are proceeding at a snail’s pace? Both builders and activists feel that these measures are inadequate and would not yield tangible results unless the fundamental issues are addressed first.

Currently the SRA schemes are plagued by issues like 70 % consent from slum dwellers for redevelopment, the infighting among them, eligibility issues, land premiums as well as approvals from various agencies.

In the last 22 years, ever since the SRA was conceived, just 1.88 lakh slum families have shifted to new homes under 1,749 schemes. According SRA, the city has nearly 12.5 lakh families living in slums that still need to be rehabilitated.

According to Anand Gupta, committee member, Builders Association of India (BAI), creating separate SRA’s will not be enough.

“Taking consent of slum dwellers takes years. Various groups of slum dwellers tend to push their favoured builders into the fray, and in this infighting, the whole scheme collapses.”

He said the very condition of the government that any builder has to pay 25 % of the land value as premium cost, has driven off many builders from the scheme.

“The SRA schemes are undertaken by medium and small builders and not by big developers. Currently, these builders are facing monetary crises and are not able to pay such a huge premium upfront,” said Gupta.

Similarly Niranjan Hiranandani, managing director, Hiranandani Group, while welcoming the move said that more needs to be done on the issue of consent.

“We expect the government to lower the 70 % consent clause to 51 % so that the process speeds up,” said Hiranandani.

Noted housing activist advocate Vinod Sampat blamed the builders for this impasse.

“The builders present an inflated number of slum dwellers, just to get more sale area. The entire scheme is mired in corruption,” said Sampat.

The state government said the aim of setting up a separate SRA was to speed up the redevelopment schemes.

“Creating different SRAs and CEOs to look after different regions would help in speeding up the process, as today there is huge work load on the single existing SRA. The decision was taken as it took years to solve disputes, which cause delays in schemes,” said Ravindra Waikar, minister of state for Housing.

“As far as consent is concerned, we have asked slum dwellers to appoint anyone even if they have 51 % consent and the rest will join eventually. Builders should not worry about monetary issues, as we have tied up with various banks, and they are ready to finance SRA schemes,” said Waikar.

The SRA scheme, started in 1996, has been mired in corruption and host of other issues like manipulating slum dwellers, eligible people not making it to the list, fake consents, misleading promises, and inferior quality construction. All these issues slowed down the redevelopment work.

Problems with the SRA scheme

1) Many small-time builders tend to acquire consent and then sell the project to bigger builders

2) 70 % consent is required by builders to go ahead with the redevelopment process builders mainly tend to coerce the slum dwellers to join the scheme, and even employ high-handed tactics to obtain consents

3) Intense infighting among the slum dwellers where different groups squabble to get their favoured builders

4) Many times, the number of beneficiaries are inflated which ensures more benefits to the builders

5) The financial inability of the builder forces him to postpone the scheme

First Published: Mar 26, 2018 14:31 IST