Winter Session in Nagpur: New slum redevelopment plan gets House nod without debate

Winter Session in Nagpur: New slum redevelopment plan gets House nod without debate

Nagpur: The Maharashtra government’s contentious slum redevelopment plan, which would entitle even non-protected residents of slums for rehabilitation under its slum redevelopment policy, received the nod of the Legislative Assembly Wednesday, and is now close to becoming a law. While the move has major implications for Mumbai where almost every second resident lives in a slum, the Assembly passed the legislation within minutes without any debate.

Earlier, the state’s law department had raised strong objections to the move. But it was tabled in the Assembly on Wednesday morning. Within minutes of being taken up for discussion in the evening, it was cleared with members of the Opposition not raising any objection. The ruling side will now take the legislation to the Legislative Council Thursday.

Over 52 lakh people reside in slums in the commercial capital, which have some of the highest population densities in the world. While presently only residents of slums in dwelling units that existed before January 1, 2000 are protected against demolition and entitled to free owned rehabilitation in a slum redevelopment plan, the government has now proposed to accommodate even ineligible slum dwellers in the Slum Rehabilitation Authority (SRA) scheme.

On the basis of the Centre’s ‘Housing for All’ initiative, it has now proposed two separate rehabilitation components for SRA projects. While protected occupiers living in pre-2000 dwelling units will remain eligible for free rehabilitation, those found ineligible in this category are proposed to be accommodated on-site under provisions of the Centre’s Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY). While the move would blur slum cut-off deadlines, government sources admitted that permitting more buildable space to accommodate more slum-dwellers would further increase local population densities.

But for now, the chief minister has capped the rehabilitation benefit among non-protected dwellings only for residents of slums in dwelling units existing before January 1, 2011. While a formal assessment of the number of dwellings that would benefit from the move is yet to be made, sources said at least 3.5 lakh additional slum dwellings and 18 lakh slum dwellers may get accommodated.

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Although post-2000 dwellings won’t be eligible for free rehabilitation, they will have to pay the construction cost for the rehabilitation home, a source said. “They will, however, be eligible for rebate offered under PMAY,” he added. Also, in the event of there being lack of space to accommodate such slum dwellers in situ, the proposal is to relocate them into PMAY houses within the Mumbai Metropolitan Region.

Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said, “All residents of slums in dwelling units upto January 1, 2011 will now be entitled to rehabilitation. This was done as it was noticed that non-protected occupiers, who were evicted from the Slum Rehabilitation Area without any rehabilitation arrangement, would shift to the slum area again, defeating the goal of a slum-free city and the government’s ‘housing for all’ mission.”

Despite the law department’s objections, the legislation has also a proposal to include non-slum portions, including lands used by slum dwellers for traditional occupations, in the “slum area”. Slum projects in Mumbai’s prime areas have already turned into a goldmine for developers, who are already permitted to build anywhere between three to four times the slum area. Sources said the inclusion of non-dwelling portions in the “slum area” would further increase sale incentives for builders.

The government has set an upper limit of 45 days for slum dwellers to object to an SRA proposal. It has also proposed mandatory disclosures and registrations by developers. It also proposes to empower Chief Executive Officers (SRA) to declare a land as a slum, along with the Collector’s office. Meanwhile, land owners, whose encroached lands have been declared as slums, would get 120 days to initiate slum redevelopment plan.

Provisions have been made to acquire such lands otherwise. Sources said the legislation will also require the President’s assent for becoming a law.