After the Slum Rehabilitation Scheme (SRS) came into effect in 1995, the government had targeted to rehabilitate 8.05 lakh slum dwellings within five years. However, according to a CAG report, even after 15 years, the government has been able to rehabilitate only 1.27 lakh slum dwellings, which constitutes a mere 15 per cent of total slum dwellings that existed in 1995. The slum population has doubled since then and certain politicians had demanded that the cut-off date for slums be extended to year 2000.
The CAG report also says, “There’s no evaluation of the developers and the quality of the construction is left to their discretion. The SRA doesn’t have a database of slums to decide whether government intervention was required for redevelopment of non-viable slums.” In one of their findings, CAG also pointed out that the Slum Act did not have any provision regarding the quality of work rendered in SRS. The report further states that in the exit conference, the principal secretary accepted the fact that there were many buildings with problems of bad construction.
According to the activists who have been fighting for the slum dwellers, the slum population has grown from 40 lakh to almost 70 lakh in the last 15 years. “There are at least 14 lakh slum dwellings in Mumbai. Right from the start, slum rehabilitation has been more lucrative for developers because of the incentives involved. Everyone –– from the slums dweller to the top leaders of the state are hand in glove as they all benefit from the slum growth,” said Simpreet Singh, of the Ghar Banao Ghar Bachao Andolan. Singh added, “We need to do away with the free housing project. Even a cup of tea is charged in this state ––why should housing be free? Anything that is free is not respected and hence there should be a price tag on houses.”
Ajay Chaturvedi, realty expert, said, “The figures are self explanatory –– the government hasn’t been able to implement its own strategy and rid the city of slums. It’s high time the government came up with a new strategy and fulfilled its promise.” Gautam Chaterjee, principal secretary, Housing Department, Maharashtra said, “There must be a policy where the projects aren’t dependent only on developers. The policy will also have to think about inclusion of state government’s own machinery like MHADA for the redevelopment of slums that aren’t attracting developers and builders because of various reasons. The dependence on outsiders won’t help solve the slum issue completely, and internal machinery will have to be put to use.”