Free-for-all demand by Dharavi residents
Locals reject govt's January 1, 1995 cut-off date; insist free houses be given to everyone currently residing in the slum colony as part of rehabilitation scheme
Even as Dharavi residents are raising the roof in annoyance over the delay in the redevelopment of Asia’s biggest slum colony (‘If no redevelopment in three months we will do it ourselves: Dharavi residents’, July 31, MiD DAY), a new bone of contention has emerged that is likely to worsen the already fractured relationship between the inhabitants and the government.
The slum dwellers are now demanding that everyone currently staying in Dharavi should get a free house, including those who have been living in or have bought a shanty here after 1995, which would mean contravening the state government’s cut-off date — January 1, 1995 — under the Slum Rehabilitation Scheme (SRS). Since then, according to insiders, more than 50 per cent of the slum dwellers have sold their homes and shifted to other areas.
According to Dharavi residents, the government claims that only 37 per cent of the people staying in the slums here are eligible for free houses. “Our demand is very simple; the government should not take into consideration who the person is and since when he is staying here. The only things that should be considered are the structures, and almost all of them have come up after 1995,” said Hariram Dilliwala, secretary of Proud Foundation, who himself is an inhabitant of Dharavi.
Prashant Anthony, another Dharavi resident, said, “People have sold structures under dire needs. Some needed money, on occasions other problems surfaced, and hence the original residents sold off their shanties. Those who bought the dwellings here have paid money, so even they should be eligible for homes.”
S K Biswas, CEO for Dharavi Redevelopment Project — before whom the slum dwellers had made a presentation a few days ago — said, “The demand is understood, and the government has specified that every resident of Dharavi who stays in a structure that’s eligible will have to pay a transfer fee to the prescribed authority and then he would be entitled to housing in Dharavi.”