Maharashtra government on Wednesday decided to extend the cut-off year to regularise 3.5 lakh unauthorised slums in the city to 2017 from 2011.According to senior government officials, the proposal for this was already approved by the cabinet last Sunday. “The proposal will now be tabled and approved at the ongoing state Assembly session in Nagpur. This move of regularising 3.5 lakh slums will benefit a total 18 lakh slums dwellers,” says BJP MLA Ashish Shelar.Meanwhile, state minister for Housing Ravindra Waikar feels BJP is in hurry to take the credit for the move. “We are not happy with BJP’s decision to leak this proposal to the media,” he said.”We have been working on it jointly for a long time. We are still preparing rules and regulations, and we have to also see that this move does not encourage people to create new slums. We should have surveyed the slums, then taken a phase-wise decision. We will take this up with the higher authorities.”Waikar pointed out that in 2003, the government had submitted an affidavit in the High Court that no slums should be regularised after 2005. “We have to check the details of the law before announcing such major decisions,” the Shiv Sena MLA said.Shelar feels this move will simplify slum rehabilitation projects. “Those ineligible under the redevelopment scheme create hurdles,” he explains. “Sometimes, one resident is eligible, but another from the same locality can be disqualified. Around 30 per cent of the population from a segment set for redevelopment would be disqualified. Then, these residents go to court and litigation delays the project indefinitely. By extending the cut-off date to 2017, a majority of the slum dwellers will be eligible and they will realise their dream of getting a pakka house.”Shelar also points out that this move could curb corruption that sprouts while drawing up a list of eligible slum dwellers. “The Collectorate, SRA and BMC officials demand incentives from slum dwellers to put their names on the list,” he said. “Now, there will be no corruption and a majority of the projects will be executed on time. This move will also help boost redevelopment projects such as like Dharavi. It’s a step in the right direction to realise the PM’s goal of giving everyone a home by 2022 under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana.”As per the government decision, slum dwellers will only have to pay construction cost in the redevelopment project. The Slum Rehabilitation Authority (SRA) has given a Letter of Intent (LOI) to 1531 SRA projects in the city, which will yield about 4.41 lakh new houses.Pankaj Kapoor, chairman at property research firm Liases Foras, welcomes the decision. “However, at the same time, this should not become a trend to increase slums in city and become an avenue for vote-bank politics,” he says.
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