State to take over Mumbai trust lands, salt pans for 'slum rehab'

The Maharashtra government has decided to take steps to develop slum rehabilitation schemes on land owned by five private trusts in Mumbai.

Chief minister Devendra Fadnavis said on Monday that the trusts had made no efforts to develop their lands. While some of the land parcels had already been taken over by slums, the rest was unencumbered. The government will send these trusts legal notices and take necessary steps to acquire the land and create a housing stock.

These land parcels are located in Goregaon, Malad, Bhandup, Kurla and Dahisar.

The state government is also eyeing salt pan land to create housing to 'rehabilitate slum dwellers'  and create housing stock, and will meet union government ministers in this regard. Private developers will also be incentivised for construction of affordable houses.

In a city so ridden by land scams as Mumbai, most cynics say the move could be yet another attempt by the government to grab private or public land and hawk it off to developers in the guise of slum rehabilitation.

In a meeting with the Slum Rehabilitation Authority (SRA) authorities, Fadnavis said slum rehab schemes should be speeded up. Pointing out that 46 per cent of Mumbai's population lives in slums, he said that solving issues related to slum dwellers was essential to ensure an all-round development of the city.

He did not mention that almost all these slums have been legalised post facto in vote-bank politics.

A total of 117 slum rehabilitation projects being developed by the city corporation BMC and 96 MHADA projects are held up. Orders have been issued to review and immediately begin work on projects which have been pending for three years.

The SRA has Rs1,800 crore of funds, of which Rs500 crore will be given to MHADA to create housing stock.

Fadnavis also issued instructions for a comprehensive re-development of Dharavi, Asia's largest slum, which has become something of a tourist attraction for foreigners. The makeover of the area has been pending for years.

To protect local industries in Dharavi, these units will be given 400 square feet areas instead of the previous 300 square feet wherever necessary. The 100 square feet can be sold by the parties on a 'no-profit, no-loss' basis.