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Soon,special rehab policy for Dharavi,CSIA slumdwellers

Close on the heels of the decision to invite fresh global tenders for the Dharavi Redevelopment Project,the state government is on the verge of announcing a special rehabilitation policy for slumdwellers in Dharavi and those squatting on land belonging to the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport.

Written by Kavitha Iyer | Mumbai |
May 18, 2011 12:39:08 am

Close on the heels of the decision to invite fresh global tenders for the Dharavi Redevelopment Project,the state government is on the verge of announcing a special rehabilitation policy for slumdwellers in Dharavi and those squatting on land belonging to the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport (CSIA). With nearly half of these slumdwellers having settled after the cut-off date of January 1,2000,and therefore ineligible for free tenements,officials have admitted that both key projects will remain non-starters unless a special policy is drafted for residents of shanties built before 2000 but bought by the current occupants after the cut-off.

“The government will take a final decision on a special rehabilitation policy for these two vital public projects very soon,” said Naseem Khan,Guardian Minister for Mumbai’s suburbs,whose Assembly constituency includes large swathes of shanty colonies occupying airport land. “The precedent is already there — under the Mumbai Urban Transport Policy,the survey date was the cut-off date for fixing eligibility for free resettlement.”

While a court order prohibits the state government from a general extension to the cut-off date for slums that are termed protected,officials expect this special rehabilitation policy to reduce resistance to the projects from slumdwellers,one of the reasons for prolonged delays. About 50 per cent of the estimated 80,000 shanties on airport land have been occupied by fresh residents after 2000,though most of these structures were built before the cut-off date. Resettling slumdwellers occupying 276 acres of airport land is critical for the expansion of the severely land-starved airport.

Officials in the Housing Department added that a broad policy decision is also likely soon on charging the post-2000 slumdwellers in these projects a nominal fee for the 269 sq ft rehabilitation tenements. “One suggestion was that the post-2000 families should pay the construction cost of the rehabilitation tenements,” said Hukamraj Mehta,president of the South Central District Congress Committee and among those fighting for early implementation of the Dharavi project. “But we have demanded that only a transfer fee should be charged.” The fee remains to be finalised.

Officials said fresh tenders will be invited within the next two to three months from real estate majors interested in redeveloping four sectors of Dharavi. Sector 5 redevelopment will be undertaken by the MHADA.

Mehta said Congress activists have demanded some concrete steps well before the municipal elections in February 2012. While all but one of Dharavi’s corporator wards are represented by the Congress,Mehta stated in a letter sent to CM Prithviraj Chavan in April that the party’s support base in the slum will be hurt if quick measures are not taken to implement the long-delayed project.

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