The Slum Rehabilitation Authority (SRA) is preparing to acquire 7.50 lakh square metres land that teem with slum clusters from private trusts so as to initiate redevelopment schemes.
In its meeting chaired by Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis last year, the SRA had resolved to issue notices to the private trusts which own vast stretches of land in Mumbai that have been encroached upon in order to redevelop the slums. Accordingly, the SRA had identified major landowners and sent notices to them in June. The landowners were given three months to come forward with redevelopment schemes, failing which the SRA would forcibly acquire the land.
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A senior SRA official said, “Most replied that they would be willing to submit schemes for slum redevelopment on their lands. However, nobody actually submitted a concrete proposal. Some did not respond to the notice, so we have started preparing files to acquire the land.”
The 7.50 lakh square metres land that the SRA is looking to acquire under the Maharashtra Slum Areas Act is owned by 11 large trusts in Mumbai. These include FE Dinshaw Estate in Goregaon, AH Wadia Trust in Kurla, Byramjee Jeejeebhoy properties limited in Malad, Mohammad Yusuf Khot Trust in Bhandup and others.
FE Dinshaw Estate, under the administration of Nusli Wadia, Bombay Dyeing group’s chief promoter, is among Mumbai’s largest private land holder, owning large tracts, mainly between Borivali and Malad, portions of which are covered by eco-sensitive mudflats or mangroves. Mohammad Yusuf Khot Trust has a large expanse in the region between Powai and Bhandup. AH Wadia Trust and the Byramjee Jeejeebhoy Properties Ltd too featured among the top landowners in the city.
However, the latter replied to SRA’s notice, saying that most of its land had been sold out, said an SRA official.
He added that the SRA was currently in the process of identifying pockets on encroached land owned by these trusts, and verifying property cards for the plots. So far, it has completed this exercise for 2 lakh of the 7.50 lakh square metres it is set to acquire.
“From December 1, we plan to start site visits and joint measurements of the plots. We will then conduct public hearings for suggestions and objections. If landowners are keen to submit schemes on their own rather than allowing the land to be acquired, they can present the schemes during the public hearing,” the official said, adding that the SRA hoped to submit concrete land acquisition proposals to the government by end of March next year.
SRA officials estimate at least 42 percent of Mumbai’s population lives in slums that occupy just 12 percent of the city’s total geographical area and at least 20-25 percent of its buildable area. The SRA scheme allows private developers to house slum-dwellers living in structures built before January 2000 in highrises constructed on a portion of the plot that the slum occupies. As an incentive, builders are granted a higher construction area and are allowed to commercially exploit the remaining public land free of cost. The scheme, which was launched two decades ago with the intention of housing 8 lakh families within five years, has managed to rehabilitate a little over 1.5 lakh families until now.