Surveys of Mumbai’s slums to establish which residents are eligible for free housing often turn out to be the source of manipulation in slum redevelopment projects. The Slum Rehabilitation Authority (SRA), which is under the scanner over allegations of irregular approvals to some SRA projects, has now decided to digitise this process to weed out corruption.
Nearly half of Mumbai’s 1.2 crore inhabitants live in overcrowded and unsanitary slum settlements across Mumbai. The city’s latest land use survey, which was published alongside the city’s new development plan, has found that the slum population together accounts for just 8 per cent of the city’s geographical area.
Conceived in 1995 to redevelop the slum clusters into planned rehabilitation settlements, the SRA has turned into a goldmine for builders, many of whom have inflated the slum dwellers eligibility records and the slum density records to extract more incentives from the redevelopment process. Controversies and corruption have dogged the SRA scheme with barely 1.5 lakh slum dwellers rehabilitated so far. “The annexure-II list which certifies the slum dwellers entitled for a house in a redevelopment scheme, is often manipulated.
A proposal for the use of biometric and online certification to decide this eligibility has now been formulated. It should be rolled out in a month or so,” said a government source. “We are planning to make it mandatory that the entire slum eligibility exercise (issuance of annexure-II) must be completed within three months mandatorily,” said the source.
Apart from the online survey, the SRA has also decided to push plans for digitisation of records and online approval of projects. Sources said that while these reforms were brought to the fore a couple of years ago, they were pushed to the backburner.
While slum activists have often accused the SRA officials of conniving with slum developers, developers say that the interminable wait for approvals and the number of counters they have to visit and pay money under the table is throttling their projects.