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'2,715 fake slum dwellers in rehab scheme'

Social activist Medha Patkar and her team have unravelled a housing scam that runs into crores. According to a report prepared by the National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM) under the leadership of Patkar, there are 2,715 fake names listed under nine different slum rehabilitation projects in the city and the houses sold in their names are worth Rs 1,023 crore.

Medha Patkar
Medha Patkar addresses slum dwellers during a protest on January 2 at Azad Maidan. Around 1,000 protesters had embarked on a two-day march to demonstrate against the faulty slum rehabilitation scheme. Pic/Atul Kamble

The report states the houses are built by builders who create fake allottees in the list of the ‘to be rehabilitated families’ and then sell the houses in the open market to ineligible people. The report adds that if the value of the land is factored in, the scam figure of Rs 1,023 crore escalates to Rs 7,411 crore.¬†Members of Patkar’s group said the facts came to light after an investigations of nine projects in the city. These are located at Antop Hill, Khar, Jogeshwari, Parel, Mulund, Chembur, Ghatkopar and Koliwada. Incidentally, Antop Hill has been mentioned twice in the report.

The report says that there are 622 fake cases in Antop Hill, with the money made from the sale of such houses amounting to Rs 248 crore. The second mention of Antop Hill reveals 976 fakes, amounting to Rs 390 crore. Similarly, there were 127 fake families in the list for Mulund, amounting to Rs 57 crore; some 690 fake cases in Khar, amounting to Rs 207 crore; and in Ghatkopar, it was 300 fake names, amounting to Rs 120 crore.

While the list didn’t mention the name of any of the builders, the report claimed that political leaders were in collusion with the builders. The activists are demanding that the Slum Rehabilitation Authority (SRA) be scrapped as it is nothing but a land-grabbing tool in the hands of builders, bureaucrats and politicians Imtiaz Ahmed, convener for NAPM, said that the details were obtained through the Right to Information Act, and were brought to the notice of the authorities concerned so action may be taken. “We collected the facts and figures through the RTI Act, and in many cases, action has been initiated by the officials.

Patkar’s colleagues are asking that the government implement the Rajiv Awas Yojna, where unlike SRA, the slum dweller doesn’t get a free home, but has to pay 25% of the total cost for the home. “Our slum dwellers are ready to pay for the houses. We don’t want free homes. The SRA is nothing but a tool for land grabbing and we aren’t going to let this happen,” said Ahmed. Repeated attempts to contact Nirmal Kumar Deshmukh, the SRA chief, proved futile. ¬†

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