It’s an established fact that generous gains, and not generosity, draw developers in the city to slum rehabilitation projects. Cutthroat competition to grab major Slum Rehabilitation Authority (SRA) schemes has engendered countless court cases and ruthless rivalries among individuals. But, a pressing proposal to moot major changes in the existing situation by the state administration has failed to take off in the last eight months.
The lassitude on part of the Democratic Front (DF) government in the state is striking, since, soon after taking over as CM, Prithviraj Chavan gave a call for transparency in SRA projects ‘where developers make astronomical profits by usurping prime pieces of government land.’
CM SAYS: Soon after taking over as CM, Prithviraj Chavan himself had given a call for ambiguity in SRA projects. FILE PIC
Last April, Dilip Band, the then divisional commissioner of Pune region and CEO of the regional slum redevelopment authority, had written to the principal secretary of the housing department, underscoring perplexities pertaining to SRA schemes on land owned by state and semi-government agencies.
Band had powerfully propounded a need to invite bids for rehabilitation of inhabitants of slum clusters from developers, instead of the present system where a developer approaches authorities along with residents. This would add substantial income to the state kitty, he had said.
Responding to the proposal post-haste, deputy secretary RG Salvi and principal secretary Gautam Chatterjee from the state housing department backed it with their comments. But eight months later, they are awaiting the state cabinet’s green light.
Law of the land
The major aspects cited in the proposal
(copy with MiD DAY) are:
>> There’s no mechanism to check valuation of incentive FSI offered to developers of SRA schemes, which offers them astronomical profits. Developers are grabbing government lands for this. The government should decide the quotient of their proceeds.
>> Slum dwellers on government land are encroachers and have blocked the plot from any development. But builders are taking keen interest in the process to get consent from 70 per cent residents for an SRA scheme approval, which is leading to submission of fake documents to corner benefits. Slum dwellers are behaving as if they are owners of the land, which is also leading to group clashes and court matters.
>> The state should decide on public participation in an SRA, involvement of developers at a specific stage, and valuation of incentives offered to them, by inviting bids.
>> To avoid further complications, the government should desist from accepting direct proposals by developers, should also involve NGOs before going for bids, and should seek consent of slum dwellers too.
>> The bids should be accepted only on the basis of developers’ offer to shell out 25 per cent cost of the land, and providing maximum flats to government free of cost.