State may legalise Mumbai slums, Babus wary

Feb 23, 2014, 01:51 IST | Ravikiran Deshmukh

Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan calls urgent meeting on Sunday to legalise slums that came up till 2000; IAS officers caution DF government of possible legal consequences

This could well be the most tricky and controversial decision that the Congress-Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) government has taken in quite a while.

The government believes that legalisation of slums will pave the way for rehabilitation programmes. File pic
The government believes that legalisation of slums will pave the way for rehabilitation programmes. File pic

Ignoring concerns from senior bureaucrats with the state administration, the political leadership is all set to pass a proposal to legalise all slums that have cropped up between January 1995 and January 2000.

This, the government believes, will pave the way for rehabilitation projects in the near future. The proposal to legalize slums is expected to come up before the state cabinet meeting scheduled later this evening.

Sources say Congress and NCP leaders in Mumbai feel unless the cut-off date is extended to legalise slums, it cannot generate necessary votes to ensure victory in Mumbai’s six Lok Sabha seats.

However, several senior bureaucrats, on condition of anonymity, say they fear such a decision may invite the Supreme Court’s ire. Many in the state administration in fact, are worried as any decision to legalise these slums, is certain to go before the Supreme Court.

The government cannot do it without prior consent of the SC as it has refused to vacate a Bombay High Court stay order on extending the cut-off date of January 1995.

It is learnt that many bureaucrats have cautioned ministers that if the government goes ahead with an amendment to the Maharashtra Slum Areas Act 1971, it may have to face the anger of the SC.

Expressing surprise over the way the administration was asked to prepare a proposal for the cabinet meeting, a senior official said the rules of business specify how to introduce a cabinet proposal.

Since this proposal has been cited as immediate, it lacks proper instructions (read written) from the state governor or the Chief Minister, who are empowered to introduce such ‘urgent’ proposals before the cabinet.

The hands of the administration are tied too, as a deputy secretary from the housing department had already submitted an affidavit before the high court saying the government will not extend cut-off dates for legalisation of slums.

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