In a big move, the Maharashtra government has decided to provide houses to ‘ineligible’ slum dwellers residing in hutments built before January 1, 2011 but not for free. These slum dwellers will have to pay construction cost of the tenement decided by the state government. The tenements will be made available on in-situ basis or anywhere in Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR) under Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY), HT reports .
A government resolution (GR) was also issued by the state housing department on May 16.
The move will bring relief to 3.5 lakh hutments (around 8 lakh people) that are living in slums but are declared ineligible due to the January 1, 2000, deadline.
The catch here is that the state housing department has allowed these ineligible slum dwellers to sell their tenement anytime they want, on contrary to the slum redevelopment rule stating that a tenement allotted under slum rehabilitation scheme cannot be transferred for a period first 10 years. Officials are wary that some people may misuse this relaxation, which will ultimately defeat the actual purpose of the scheme — making Mumbai slum-free.
As per the existing provisions, those living in slums built until January 1, 2000, are legally protected and can’t be removed without a free rehabilitation tenement. Bombay high court refused to allow the government to extend this deadline. The fresh decision will give some legal protection to slum dwellers who have built shanties before January 1, 2011.
“The move is necessary as lakhs of people are residing in these slums which don’t fit in the eligibility criteria for redevelopment. But giving free hand by not having a locking period for transfer of tenements means encouraging some of them to sell tenements and build another slum,” said a senior officials requesting anonymity.
Section 3E of the Maharashtra Slum Areas Act of 1971 clearly prohibits transfer of the allotted tenement through sale, gift, exchange, lease or otherwise, for a period of ten years.
Ramesh Prabhu, housing expert, said that this possibility cannot be overlooked that some people may sell the tenement for higher returns and can go back to any other slum. “I think it is advisable to have a locking period of at least five years so that no one can take undue advantage of the move,” Prabhu said.
He said that ultimately this is a slum redevelopment scheme which is being linked up with PMAY to make slum redevelopment in the city more feasible.
Linking the scheme with PMAY means, the government will be paying around ₹2.5 lakh (₹1 lakh by state government and ₹1.5 lakh central government) for each tenement, which will be reduced from the total construction cost. Thus, the government could have easily imposed a locking period, he pointed out.
Sanjay Kumar, additional chief secretary of the housing department said the condition could not be imposed in this scheme as slum dwellers will have to pay construction cost for the tenements. “The scheme is contrary to the slum redevelopment scheme where the slum dwellers gets a tenement for free,” Kumar said defending the move.
“Considering this, if a common person has the right to sell his home any time he wants, then these slum dwellers should also be given the same right as they also knows what is better for them. Further, the beneficiaries will also be linked up with Aadhaar and thus they won’t be able to get benefit of any other government housing scheme in future if they chose to sell the tenement,” he added.