Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis Friday said large tracts of land held by the Union defence and railways ministries in Mumbai would be used for slum redevelopment schemes.
The chief minister also said the cut-off date for eligibility of slums for the redevelopment project in Mumbai was likely to be extended till December 31, 2000. At present, the cut-off date is January 1, 2000. The decision will benefit 2.5 lakh additional slum dwellers across Mumbai and its suburbs. The government is committed to provide housing under slum redevelopment to all those who became residents of Mumbai before December 31, 2000. It means the slums which sprung up in the city after December 31, 2000, will not be considered for the SRA project.
The conservative estimate puts the land held by the Union ministries of defense and railways in Mumbai at 38,000 acres. However, it needs to be verified how much of the land is under litigation or encroached upon.
The saltpan land of 5,500 acres which is the focus of a dispute between the state government and the defence and railways ministries is also under consideration for slum rehabilitation schemes.
The commercial capital of India has 50 per cent of its population of 1.25 crore living in slums and is grappling with the problem of slum redevelopment. The chief minister has been trying to streamline the irregularities that has thwarted the policy concerned which had come into effect in 2004.
Fadnavis said that he held a meeting with Union Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar on the unutilised land held by the defence ministry. The chief minister also discussed the matter with Union Railways Minister Suresh Prabhu.
According to Fadnavis, both Parrikar and Prabhu have given their nod for utilisation of land for slum redevelopment schemes.
The decision to consider additional slum colonies for housing comes ahead of the 2017 BMC elections which will determine the political power of BJP. It is vying to capture the country’s richest corporation that has a budget of Rs 35,000 crore.
However, the chief minister has indicated that the decision was taken keeping humanitarian aspects, and not political considerations, in mind. He said, “A delegation of party leaders had approached me to extend the cut-off date from January 1, 2000, to December 31,2000,” he said. However, all aspects would be weighed to ensure housing projects were not exploited by those not legally qualified for them, he added.
Fadnavis emphasised, “The state government is committed to housing for all by 2022.”
At least 80,000 slum dwellers on airport land are to be relocated as airport expansion plans drawn up by the Ministry of Civil Aviation and the government of Maharashtra are under way.
However, slum dwellers are unwilling to move to distant suburbs and want houses close to their present vicinity. Another challenge is to relocate the 1.5 lakh slum dwellers in and around the Bombay Port Trust.
Fadnavis said, “It would be difficult to relocate all the slums in the immediate neighbourhood of the airport. But we would certainly try to ensure that the slum dwellers are provided with decent locations in the city suburbs and can earn their livelihood.”
Earlier, BJP MLA Parag Alvani had urged the government to expedite the relocation of slums from the airport land to the nearby location of Chakala (Andheri).