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Fate of over 2,500 families living in slums hangs in balance as Centre, Delhi tussle over unused flats

While Delhi government wants to grant ownership of the flats to eligible slum dwellers in lieu of a nominal payment, Centre wants them to be used as rental units.

Written by Sourav Roy Barman | New Delhi |
August 13, 2021 6:27:17 pm
Delhi slums, Delhi slum dwellers, Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board, Delhi government, Indian express, indian express news, Delhi newsAs a result, over 2,500 families, who have paid their share – Rs 1.42 lakh for general category and Rs 31,000 in case of SC category – to the Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board (DUSIB) have been left in the lurch. (Representational)

The process of relocating the capital’s slum dwellers to low-cost housing complexes has come to a grinding halt due to disagreement between the Delhi government and the Centre over a decision taken by the Union Cabinet to use thousands of unused flats built during the UPA tenure under a rental scheme.

While the Delhi government wants to grant ownership of the flats to the eligible slum dwellers in lieu of a nominal payment, the Centre wants them to be used as rental units “to efficiently utilise the scarce national resources invested on them”.

As a result, over 2,500 families, who have paid their share – Rs 1.42 lakh for general category and Rs 31,000 in case of SC category – to the Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board (DUSIB) have been left in the lurch, show letters exchanged between the Delhi government and the Union Ministry for Housing and Urban Affairs.

Moreover, no new flats, thousands of which are lying vacant, are being allotted to residents of slums under the rehabilitation policy called ‘Mukhyamantri Awas Yojana’ of the Delhi government. Under the Basic Services to Urban Poor scheme of the erstwhile Jawaharlal Nehru Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM), 38,824 flats have so far been built in Delhi, and 16,600 are under construction.

However, of the 38,824 completed flats, only 3,829 are currently occupied and the rest have been lying vacant for years, resulting in their gradual deterioration. And the new policy tussle has dealt another setback to the rehabilitation process, which remained grounded over the years due to issues ranging from absence of coordination between the Centre and the state to the distance of the colonies from economic centres that are sources of livelihood for the urban poor.

The rehabilitation process hit a hurdle last year after the MoHUA communicated to the states and UTs in July last year to convert the flats built under the JNNURM into Affordable Rental Housing Complexes (ARHC) and use them for “no other purpose” as per a Union Cabinet decision. So far, 29 states and UTs have agreed to implement the policy.

The Delhi government wrote back to the Centre, saying that it has already taken Rs 76.71 crore relocation charges from agencies such as DDA, DMRC, NBCC, SDMC among others to relocate jhuggis on their land to flats. As per the list shared with the Centre, 2,694 persons have also paid their share to the DUSIB.

“DUSIB has already charged the relocation charges from land-owning agencies and also from the beneficiaries as per provisions of relocation policy duly approved by the Lt Governor. Relocation charges amounting to Rs 76.17 crore in respect of 10 JJ bastis have been received from land-owning agencies… It is requested to kindly exclude them as these JJ dwellers and land-owning agencies concerned were identified and committed prior to the communication of the Centre to the Delhi government,” DUSIB Director (Rehabilitation) Abdul Dayyan wrote to the Centre.

The matter also came up in a review meeting chaired by Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal in which it was decided that after allotting the flats already committed to the beneficiaries, the remaining ones “may be explored for utilisation under the rental scheme”. However, the Centre has rejected the proposal, saying Delhi should make proper use of the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana for ensuring housing for all.
According to official estimates, there are 675 JJ (jhuggi jhopdi or slum) clusters in the city which house 3.06 lakh families, and nearly 1,800 unauthorised colonies, home to a mix of low- and middle-income families.

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