Ahead of the crucial elections to the Greater Mumbai Municipal Corporation next month, the Maharashtra government on Monday took a crucial decision with regard to the eligibility of the occupiers of slums for rehabilitation with cut off date of January 1, 2000 and of those structures which have come up prior to January 1, 1995, in the city.
Today's decision has given a major impetus to expedite the implementation of the Rs 9,000 crore (Rs 90 billion) redevelopment of sector 5 of Dharavi slum project and the rehabilitation of 80,000 slum families on the Mumbai airport land.
Chief minister Prithviraj Chavan said the amount of fee would be decided soon. "This decision is a fulfilment of the promise given by the Congress-NCP during 2009 elections," he said.
Even though the Dharavi redevelopment project and the expansion of Mumbai international airport project were already declared as "vital projects", with the cut off date of January 1, 2000, this decision comes as another piece of good news for the redevelopment projects.
Occupiers were facing hurdles due to anomaly between the Maharashtra Slums Act and the Development Control Regulations over eligibility for rehabilitation. The state government today gave its approval for inclusion of a new chapter in the Maharashtra Slums Act, 1971, and modification in the Development Control Regulations, Rule 33 (10) whereby the present occupiers would be entitled for rehabilitation.
It must be mentioned here that the entire tendering process initiated by Chavan's predecessors prior to November 2010 had already been scrapped. As per the revised government decision, the state-run Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority would implement the Dharavi redevelopment by roping in contractors.
At the same time, the rehabilitation of 80,000 families living on the slums on Mumbai airport land has been hanging fire for long as the government decided to reframe the rehabilitation policy.
About 20,000 tenements in Kurla area of Mumbai to relocate the slum dwellers are ready but shifting could not take place because of local opposition to the survey and demand for a change in the rehabilitation policy.
Mumbai International Airport Limited, which is developing the airport has tied up with the Housing Development & Infrastructure Ltd (HDIL) to construct tenements for relocation of slum dwellers.
HDIL has constructed tenements at Kurla and Bhandup and is busy acquiring additional land to rehabilitate the slum dwellers. According to the current norms, a person has to be a resident of a structure prior to January 2000 to be eligible for protection and he/she should have the required government documents to qualify for rehabilitation.
This excludes those occupants who purchased shanties after January 2000. Now, rehabilitation would be possible after this decision as the present occupier would be entitled for rehabilitation, the government official said.
Similarly, slum dwellers who settled after January 1, 1995, would now be eligible for rehabilitation. According to the state cabinet decision, even though the occupier of a structure has changed over the years, the present occupier would be eligible for rehabilitation after payment of necessary transfer fee and charges.
Existing provisions in the Maharashtra Slum Act (1971) permit housing for "absolute" owners of slum structures found before January 1, 1995. The new chapter which advocates that families residing in post-January 1, 1995, structures would be eligible for affordable housing, which could be made available either by way of slum redevelopment, slum improvement or rental homes.