SRA scheme: In 23 yrs, only 2.06L families living in slums got homesUpdated: Jan 16, 2020 01:03 IST
With only 2.06 lakh families getting new apartments in 23 years, the much-touted rehabilitation scheme to free Mumbai of slums seems to be heading nowhere. The figures were revealed last week during chief minister Uddhav Thackeray’s review of the housing sector in the state.
The Slum Rehabilitation Authority (SRA), the nodal authority for rehabilitation projects in the city, states there are 12.50 lakh slums in the city, with 62 lakh people living there. Going by the current speed, an average of 8,963 families getting homes every year, it will take at least more than a century to rehabilitate all existing slum dwellers.
Why has the well-intentioned scheme failed? The real estate industry and analysts blame the massive slowdown in the sector, corruption in determining eligible slum dwellers, developers’ greed and infighting among slum dwellers while picking builders and red-tapism.
Under the scheme, those living in a slum have to form a cooperative housing society and together decide a developer for redevelopment. The developer is supposed to build rehabilitation tenements and hand them over to the dwellers for free. In exchange, he gets incentive floor space index to build flats which he can sell in open market to compensate for the expenditure and earn profit.
Explaining how the “inconsistent policies” of the government impact the plan, Anand Gupta, spokesperson, Builders Association of India (BAI), said, “Builders are ready for SRA, but politicians regularly come up with populist slogans promising bigger houses. The current government has promised 500-sqft homes. This derails our plan and the project suffers.”
Developers say a rule that makes it mandatory to get consent of 70% of slumdwellers is another obstacle. “After reaching this figure, too, even a small group of dwellers can derail the project,” said Gupta. “In such situations, the government needs to step in and evict a small minority with vested interests who refuse to vacate the land and cause delay,” said Rajesh Vardhan, managing director, Vardhman Group.
Blaming the SRA, Pravin Doshi, chairman, Acme Housing, said: “The SRA takes a lot of time to pass a plan. Also, we need to first build houses for slum dwellers before starting work on the part that needs to be sold. This puts strain on our finances.”
Former municipal commissioner SS Tinaikar had once infamously remarked that SRA scheme is “for the builders, by the builders and of the builders”.
A case in point could be revamp of Patra Chawl at Goregaon. For the past nine years, the original slum dwellers are languishing out of their homes without rent amount, while HDIL, which was undertaking the project, sold their stake to other builders, making money in the process. “The cost of undertaking a slum rehabilitation project is very high. In the current scenario, it is difficult to make profits. Moreover, most financial institutions are not very enthusiastic about financing slum projects,” said Pankaj Kapoor, CEO, Liases Foras, a real estate research firm.
The SRA projects are meant to give bigger, better homes to slumdwellers for free, but the scheme has faced a lot of opposition, including allegations of favouring builders and litigation. “Firstly, the slum lords dictate the terms. Then, the builders have to deal with a large number of ineligible slum dwellers. These factors force many reputable builders to shun slum projects,” said housing activist Ramesh Prabhu.
From 2008 till 2019, the Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (MHADA) has brought in 66,708 affordable homes in Mumbai.
The state government, however, promised to take efforts to improve the situation. Minister of state for housing Satej Patil said, “We have seen slum dwellers forming groups to choose their favoured builders. This tends to delay the scheme. In addition, there is slowdown in the market, which dissuades builders from coming forward. We will hold talks with banks to bail out projects that are stuck owing to lack of funds.”