Maharashtra slum policy fails to fully satisfy realtors

While the Maharashtra government's decision to extend the cut-off date by five years to January 1, 2000, from the earlier January 1, 1995, may help speed up execution of slum re-development projects, real estate developers want more.

'To some extent, this scheme will aid in faster movement of existing projects. However, the larger problem remains, because a lot more people have settled in slums after 2000 who will now move out to a new location. The government should allow accommodation on a real-time basis, albeit charging them for it,' said Lalit Kumar Jain, chairman, CREDAI.

In a late night decision on Wednesday, the Maharashtra Cabinet took this step, which means that slums which have come up between 1995 and 2000 will now be regularised and will be eligible for rehabilitation in slum re-development projects.

The state government has also decided to legalise the transfer of ownership of protected slums built on or before January 1, 1995. This means that even those people who have moved in a slum structure by way of buying or transfer of rights to reside in it, will also be eligible for rehabilitation in redevelopment projects, which was a long-pending popular demand.

Clarity on the transfer policy has more significance than the cut-off, because a number of people had sold off or moved out of their slum dwellings, and, they were not eligible for accommodation in the redevelopment projects. This was leading to execution challenges and delays in project completions. While the move may now lead to faster implementation of under-construction slum redevelopment projects, developers differ on its efficacy in making the city slum-free.

'This will help clear the stuck projects, which would result in more supply coming into the market and also improve social infrastructure in the city. The new scheme protects the structure, which was most needed as it is natural that people would have moved out from their locations over a period of time and, now, with the transfer policy also cleared, the process of slum redevelopment will be smoother and faster,' said Gaurav Gupta, director, Omkar Realtors & Developers, one of the leading players in slum redevelopment projects in the city.

Gupta said not many people have moved in slums after 2000 as Mumbai practically has no space now. However, Rajesh Vardhman, managing director, Vardhman Group, said the two moves combined will lead to at least 15-20% more people to be rehabilitated, and that too without any cost attached. "If the government has to provide accommodation to all, there should be some charges levied, because free rehabilitation will not stop rising of new slum clusters". Vardhman is a Mumbai-based real estate player undertaking redevelopment projects, including slums.