ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846
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Slum Rehabilitation in Mumbai-Possible If Done Differently

Slum Rehabilitation in Mumbai Possible If Done Differently Shirish B Patel EVERY major public project proposed nowadays in India attracts a knee-jerk reaction of criticism, opposition, hostility. This is because government has lost credibility as a body that in formulating schemes considers its common citizens' interests as paramount. Schemes are seen as furthering the interests of one wealthy group or another. There is doubt as to whether, beyond lip-service, the public interest figures at all among the considerations that are uppermost in formulating a scheme. That said, if we try to take a dispassionate look at the slum rehabilitation scheme of the government of Maharashtra (GoM),1 we find in it a curious mixture of the admirable and the dubious. And the hastily cobbled together. The hastiness in places is such that it throws into question the seriousness of the entire scheme. Let us examine each of these aspects in turn First, the admirable. For the first lime in independent India, a government has recognised slum-dwellers as contributors to the city'sgrowth and prosperity. Inconsequence. GoM acknowledges and accepts two important slum-dwellers' rights: the right to ownership of the land on which they live, and the right to water supply and sanitation Slum-dwellers are seen as worthy citizens, and deserving of these rights. The motivation for all this may well be the garnering of votes. No harm in that, as long as the motivation persists beyond the immediately forthcoming elections Next, the dubious, redeemed by a single Hash of the admirable. GoM's scheme makes two important assumptions: first, that slum- dwellers cannot afford to finance their own buildings, and second, that they cannot manage their own construction. As we shall see, neither of these two assumptions stands up to scrutiny. But to deal with these two supposed problems, GoM's solution is a scheme whereby the city's builders and property developers will organise and carry out the slum reconstruction. Finance will be provided through a Tree-sale component' of buildable area given to builder-developers to attract them to the scheme. The free-sale floor area is roughly equivalent to the floor area set aside for slum-dwellers, which in turn is to be generously provided: 225 sq ft of carpet area per slum household, regardless of size of present accommodation, offered also to pavement-dwellers. In a final, gratuitous flourish, all existing slum improvement programmes, even though some of them have proved successful and are wanted by slum-dwellers, are to be discontinued, on the ground that the new programme is going to be so much better. Cancelling existing successful proven popular programmes, for no reason, seems a clear indicator of fraudulent intentions. Why stop something ltic beneficiaries warn?. Unless we are misreading who the real beneliciaries are.

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