If everything goes as per its plan, then soon the Congress-led state government may announce its ambitious scheme to rehabilitate about 67.35 lakh slum dwellers residing in 13.47 shanties in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR).
The state machinery seems to be burning the midnight oil to enable the government to announce the plan ahead of the upcoming Lok Sabha elections, benefits of which could also be reaped for the State Assembly elections scheduled for 2014.
Currently, the state has its hand tied to undertake rehabilitation of slums after 1995 cut-off-date due to an ongoing matter in the Supreme Court (SC). Even though the then Congress-led government decided to protect shanties that were built till 1-1-2000, the decision has remained on paper. Congress leaders, particularly from Mumbai, are eager to find a solution as slum dwellers had raised the issue during the campaigning for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections scheduled for April-May 2014.
The state now appears to be taking shelter under the Rajiv Awas Yojana (RAY), as the central government scheme does not speak about any specific cut-off-date and is aimed at making cities slum-free.
Using the scheme, the state has conducted a slum census that says 22.40 lakh shanties in the big cities can be taken up for rehabilitation under the RAY.
Earlier, the state did not show any interest to implement the scheme, as it required contribution from the slum dwellers. Also, elected representatives were unwilling to accept it citing SRA scheme, which provides dwellings for free. Now that the centre has announced loans with five per cent interest, which will effectively become three per cent after the central government subsidy, the scheme has become attractive and involves a large number of slum dwellers.
Number of shanties in the MMR as per a recent state census
Up for grabs
While slum dwellers falling in the Economically Weaker Section (EWS) category would be entitled for a self-contained home measuring 218 sq ft (carpet area), those who fit the Lower Income Group (LIG) would get housing units measuring 290 sq feet (carpet area).
Scope for improvement
The state census report states that 13.47 hutments in the MMR that comprise Mumbai, Mira Road, Bhayandar, Vasai, Virar, Thane, Kalyan, Dombivali, Badlapur, Ulhasnagar, Bhivandi, Navi Mumbai, Panvel, can be rehabilitated.