Mumbai: The Slum Rehabilitation Authority (SRA) has begun acquiring land of seven big private owners, namely, the Wadia Trust, FE Dinshaw, Byramjee Jeejeebhoy, Godrej and Boyce, VK Lal, Mohmmad Yusuf Khot and Kanjurmarg Khot, among others.
As per SRA records, slum dwellers have encroached upon 555 acres of private land. Out of this, 407.61 acres is proposed to be acquired for slum rehabilitation projects. A senior SRA official, requesting anonymity, explained why they had begun acquiring these lands. “The authority, on a direction of the Chief Minister, had asked these landlords to bring to the table plans for slum rehabilitation development projects on their lands, in order to preserve their rights.
A public notice was even issued in 2015 in this direction; and again individual notices were sent, said the officer. The SRA chief has now directed the collector and officers to begin acquiring these lands to initiate the redevelopment projects. Another senior official of the SRA said that private landlords, firstly, failed to protect their land from encroachment. “As per the Maharashtra Slum Act 1971, the government has the power to acquire lands where the owners fail to protect it from encroachment.
Accordingly, notices have been issued a few times, but they have not taken any preventive measures. Moreover, they have not even forwarded their plans for redevelopment,’’ said the official. As per records, the Bhandup Khot land is the most encroached upon.
A total of 149.37 acres of land has been encroached upon by slum dwellers, of which 112.43 acres is now proposed to be acquired; the remaining will be harnessed for development of a recreational ground, playground, etc. Godrej and Boyce-owned land has the least amount of encroachments. It is expected that these landlords will move the court against the SRA, though officials said that they are willing to discuss the matter.