After the Union defence ministry and the railway ministry agreed to provide land to Maharashtra for the rehabilitation of slum-dwellers and project affected persons by December 2017, the state has urged them to expedite the process of opening up land that has been lying idle or is encroached, so that it can start building colonies for slum-dwellers after the monsoon this year.
The state government has launched an ambitious project to make Mumbai slum-free in a time-bound manner.
While the state housing department has earmarked some vacant plots, including salt pan land, for the relocation of project-affected persons and slum colonies, the defence and railway land can give a major leg-up to the project.
According to sources, the land under defence and railways ownership in Mumbai adds up to around 38,000 acres. Salt pan land accounts for a mere 5,500 acres, of which only 20 per cent would be available for use owing to litigations and private ownership issues.
Earlier this week in a significant decision, Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitely and Union Urban Development Minister Venkaiah Naidu accepted Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis’s request of including affordable housing, including slum redevelopment, in the list of social and commercial infrastructure.
Responding to the Centre’s consent, the CM said, “The decision would boost the state’s efforts of slum rehabilitation and affordable housing projects with policy support, and facilitate flow of institutional credit and funds from domestic and global financial agencies.”
The housing project has reached the stage of door-to-door surveys for weeding out illegal occupants. The government has also taken up the process of satellite mapping of encroachment by slums, including on defense and railway land.
The railways have promised to provide land to accommodate 12 lakh slum-dwellers. Sources in the defence ministry said they would hold another meeting with state officials to discuss the details this month.
The slum rehabilitation scheme was conceived in 1995, during the then Shiv Sena-BJP government. However, in the past 22 years, slum redevelopment has failed to make desired headway, officials in the Slum Redevelopment Authority department admitted.
The state economic survey said, “Since its inception in 1995 upto October 2016, the number of projects completed is 1695 and 1,67,391 slum families have been rehabilitated in Mumbai.”