With BMC elections a few months away, Congress is leaving no stone unturned to attract votes from slum dwellers. Leader of opposition in the BMC Pravin Chheda has put forth a proposal to increase the height of a dwelling to 19 ft from the existing 14 ft. This move Chheda says is directed towards safeguarding interests of slum dwellers as the BMC is planning to demolish structures above 14 ft. The proposal will be discussed in the house of BMC on August 12.
Justifying this move, Chheda said, “When these slums were being constructed, the BMC didn’t stop them. So why are they threatening to demolish them now?”
Significantly, such slum-friendly proposals are only made prior to polls. As slum dwellers make up a major chunk of voters, all parties try to get these residents in their good books. Right before the 2012 BMC elections cut off date for legalizing the hutments was extended from 1995 to 2000. Incidentally, even in December 2015, Congress had tried to increase the height of slums to 18ft, but it did not get through.
Chheda, however, claims BJP-Shiv Sena will try to lure in voters from slums by threatening to raze their abodes. He said, “BMC is trying to help the ruling alliance. Initially they will try to scare the slum dwellers, but then they will approach the state government and bring in an act that legitimizes 19 ft slums. It’s all directed at getting BJP-Shiv Sena more votes.”
“We are promoting affordable housing, so we won’t endorse such illegal activities of increasing height of slums. When we were in power, the 14ft height was framed by use. But we don’t do all this for politics. Chheda should not make such statements,” said Niranjan Shetty, BJP Mumbai chief spokesperson.