The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has promised to increase the minimum size of a house in slum redevelopment schemes (SRA) and social housing projects from the existing 269 sq ft to 450 sq ft. The party has, however, asked for scrapping of the existing builder-centric SRA in favour of a public-public model for all such projects.
Releasing the AAP’s Mumbai manifesto Thursday, activist Medha Patkar, the party’s candidate for Mumbai North Central, said AAP supported regularisation of all slums in Mumbai instead of adhering to the arbitrary cut-off date policy. “The right to shelter is the right of every citizen whether born or residing in Mumbai. We are against free housing but want to promote a participatory approach that gives the slum resident the right to improve or develop his house,” she said.
The party’s city manifesto has come exactly a week after its national manifesto was declared. Mumbai goes to polls on April 24. The manifesto was released by its six Mumbai candidates — Patkar, Mayank Gandhi, Meera Sanyal, Sundar Balakrishnan, Phiroze Palkiwala and Satish Jain.
It insists that all kinds of social housing projects, whether permanent housing or dormitories and rental housing, should be carried out by government institutions such as Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (MHADA). Patkar said her party was not against involving private parties in redevelopment but not at the cost of handing over public land to builders who then rehabilitate shanty dwellers in vertical slums on a small portion of the land and commercially exploit the remaining land. “Such projects should be socially funded, or as in case of the Rajiv Awaas Yojana, involve slum residents bearing a part of the cost in easy installments. Our social movement had submitted a plan for generating 1 crore tenements for public housing through this model,” said Patkar.
In addition to the usual fare of enacting the Jan Lokpal Bill, Nagar Raj Bill, opposing polarisation based on caste or religion, full implementation of the Justice Verma Committee recommendations, the manifesto lays emphasis on increasing the government’s role in various sectors. This includes housing, power supply, transport, education and healthcare. Some of the Mumbai-specific issues in the manifesto are protection of open spaces, reworking coastal regulation zone (CRZ) norms and recognising the land rights of indigenous communities such as Kolis, Adivasis and East Indians.
After omission of gay rights in their national manifesto invited the ire of the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) community, the AAP has included a separate section declaring its opposition to Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code in its Mumbai manifesto.
In a section on protection of human rights irrespective of caste, gender, religion or sexual orientation, the manifesto spells out that the party is against the state infringing on sexual acts between consulting adults. “The government has no right to interfere in what people do in in their bedrooms and hence the section that criminalises gay sex should be repealed immediately,” said party candidateMayank Gandhi.
The LGBT community has welcomed the move as a “right step”. Community representatives had met AAP leaders on Sunday to express their displeasure with the national manifesto. Pallav Patankar, director of HIV services at Humsafar Trust, said: “We are happy that at least AAP’s Maharashtra team has spelt it out and have not left any ambiguity. They did try to reason that they there were too many issues that were left out of the national manifesto due to constraints of space but our community was extremely vocal about the fact that a party that espouses human rights has to take a stand on a law that marginalises and criminalises homosexuality.”