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SRA revamps website, says it will bring transparency into slum housing projectsin Maharashtra

Citizens can file complaints, check status online, but housing activists unsure about effectiveness of online system

mumbai Updated: Nov 22, 2017 16:21 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times
SRA,SRA WEBSITE,MUMBAI HOUSING
SRA schemes are aimed at creating a slum-free Mumbai and offering a better life to slum dwellers.(HT File)

Ever since slum rehabilitation schemes became a reality in Maharashtra two decades ago, they have been under a cloud for huge irregularities. Now, the the Slum Rehabilitation Authority (SRA) has gone digital, it said, to bring in transparency.

The newly revamped SRA website (http://www.sra.gov.in/) has various features that will allow citizens to check the exact boundaries of slum pockets, the number of slums, its population, along with amenities in the place. People can also lodge complaints online and track the status of their grievances.

For years, builders and the administration have been accused of large-scale irregularities to benefit from slum redevelopment schemes and make big bucks. Over the years, various citizens’ groups and activists have repeatedly pointed out the issue and demanded transparency in SRA projects.

Deepak Kapoor, chief executive officer, SRA, said the initiative is being undertaken to ensure accountability in the system. “The entire information about slums is available on the internet, and this will aid everyone, right from slumdwellers and builders to town planners, architects and other citizens,” Kapoor said. “It will help stop the exploitation of slum dwellers from unscrupulous people and will help in proper city planning.”

The SRA has put online the Geographic Information System (GIS) maps of slums across the city, which ensures that all the structures are mapped. It also provides information about the area occupied by slum dwellers, the amenities as well as the infrastructure in place.

Ever since 1996 when the SRA were mooted, it has been mired in controversies such as manipulation of names on the slum dwellers’ list , tweaking names of eligible people, faking consents, making misleading promises, inferior quality of construction, and use of strong-arm tactics to bag developmental rights. Since the SRA was launched, it has had a pathetic record, with just 1.53 lakh slum dwellers shifting to newer homes, and another 3 lakh units being constructed.

SRA schemes, aimed at creating a slum-free Mumbai and offering a better life to slum dwellers, became a money-making racket for slum lords, local politicos and builders, with little to offer to slum dwellers. The SS Tinaikar report on SRA described it as a scheme “of the builders, for the builders and by the builders”.

Housing activists, however, are not convinced that the online mechanism will be effective. “The ground reality is very different as officials manipulate the system. Our experience in the civic body has not been encouraging, and it seems more an announcement than an effective mechanism to aid people,” said Santosh Daundkar, housing activist who has exposed various scams over the years.

First Published: Nov 22, 2017 16:21 IST