If you thought the Slum Rehabilitation Authority (SRA), which is responsible for the development of slums, is a poor organisation, you are wrong. The recent Comptroller and Auditor General’s (CAG) report states that the SRA has failed to use funds worth Rs 78.89 crore, which it has recovered since 1996 as infrastructural charges from developers to provide better amenities to slum dwellers.
The SRA receives funds in the form of infrastructural charges, Maharashtra Regional and Town Planning (MR&TP) development charges, land premium and maintenance charges from developers, who develop slum pockets.
The CAG has stated in its report, “We noticed that though provisions of the Development Control Rules (DCR) clearly specified utilisation of infrastructural charges, Rs 78.89 crore recovered and retained from 1996 by the SRA was lying without being used for the said purpose.”
Infrastructural charges are levied to strengthen the finance of Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM) to augment drinking water and ease the pressure on infrastructure, due to additional incentives in Slum Rehabilitation Scheme.
Former IPS officer and advocate Y P Singh says, “These funds could have been used to construct better roads and toilets and provide water and electrical connections in slum areas. However, no usage of such a big amount is sheer callousness on the part of the administration. This also shows that the authority on which the development of slums in Mumbai is dependent has no planning.”
However, when contacted, SS Zende, chief executive officer, SRA begged to differ with the CAG report and said, “There is a misunderstanding. We have already sent nearly Rs 370 crore to the MCGM that implements the infrastructure in the slums. We have records of it and will soon submit the same to the CAG.”