Over 50 per cent of slum units in Mumbai will be legitimised if the Congress-led Democratic Front (DF) government extends the cut-off deadline for rehabilitation from January 1, 1995, to January 1, 2000.
While the issue regarding extension of slum cut-off is still pending in the Supreme Court, government plans a legislation to the effect, keeping in mind the upcoming elections.
While Chavan expressed his intention during the state cabinet meeting Tuesday, legal experts said the prior consent of the apex court would be required if it wanted to bring in a new legislation.
Senior state officials said nearly 3 lakh slum households would become eligible for free rehabilitation if the cut-off deadline is extended. About 10.5 lakh slum households in Mumbai are eligible for free rehabilitation as per the January 1, 1995 cut-off.
According to the 2011 census, there are about 27 lakh slum households in Mumbai.
Sources said the bill being considered would be to amend the Maharashtra Slum Areas (Improvement, Clearance and Redevelopment) Act to extend the cut-off. On July 29, 2009, on the eve of the last Assembly polls, the state cabinet had a proposal regarding amendment to the Act but the government later decided not to pursue it as the matter was in court.
Chavan-led housing department has already begun working on the proposal’s draft.
At the state cabinet meeting, Chhagan Bhujbal (NCP) sought an urgent decision on the slum cut-off along with other issues, including cluster redevelopment plan for Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR) and implementation of the policy recognising transfer of slum units constructed before 1995, citing the impending model code of conduct for the LS poll.
Chavan later said proposals in this regard would be put up before the cabinet on or before February 23. Sensing that the middle and the upper-middle class might voice protest against the move, Chavan indicated that the proposal for providing relief in power bills to consumers being served by private discoms would be taken up in the same cabinet meeting.
In slums where the population density is high and the developer is unable to rehabilitate all the residents on the same plot, he is allowed to utilise the additional built-up area made available on another plot further north, in the suburbs. This is facilitated by generating Transfer of Development Rights (TDR) certificates for the developer, which are also tradeable.
While the government has been pushing for the extension since 2004, the Supreme Court, which has been hearing a related matter since 2007, has objected to the sop, questioning the additional strain such a move would put on the city’s infrastructure.
While the original plan was to first move an intervention application (IA) before the court justifying the cut-off extension, sources said Chavan has given in to pressure from Congress and ally NCP to simultaneously initiate the process of enacting a legislation.
The government has also justified that the 2000 cut-off had already been extended in the case of slum units and persons affected by vital infrastructure projects. It further reasoned that the Centre’s Rajeev Awaas Yojana (RAY), aimed at slum-free India, did not stipulate any cut-off.