With elections in sight,the Congress-led Democratic Front (DF) government in the state has flashed the slum card again.
The state housing department,led by Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan,has asked the Centre to include 21 more cities from the state under the Centres flagship Rajeev Awaas Yojana (RAY). The scheme,first announced before the last general elections in 2009,is aimed at making cities slum-free.
Though the scheme is yet to be rolled out,the ministry of housing and urban poverty alleviation has recently issued guidelines to states and union territories its implementation.
About 25 cities managed by municipal corporations in Maharashtra were originally chosen for the project.
The state government has now sought inclusion of 13 other A class municipal cities and eight district headquarters. These include Bhusaval,Achalpur,Wardha,Gondia,Yavatmal,Parbhani,Jalna,Ambarnath,Panvel,Beed,Barshi,Satara,Ichalkaranji,Nandurbar,Buldhana,Gadhchirol,Hingoli,Osmanabad and Ratnagiri.
A majority of the new cities recommended for inclusion are controlled by the Congress,sources said.
The number of beneficiary slum households will rise from 19 lakh to 22.5 lakh if the new cities are included.
Sources said that about 18 out of these 46 cities have a population of over 5 lakh each.
The states have to make cities slum-free by 2022.