Mumbai: Ninety-six acres of railways-owned land, especially along the tracks in Mumbai and its adjoining regions have been encroached by slum-dwellers, according to the Slum Rehabilitation Authority(SRA). This figure was determined using its Geographic Information System (GIS) of mapping. BI Kendre, chief nodal officer of the biometric survey department of SRA, confirmed, “A pilot project surveyed 21 of the 96 acres of GIS-mapped land and around 5,653 hutments have been identified. These slums are scattered over Dharavi, Chembur, Kurla and Borivli, along the railway tracks.”
As per SRA records dated September 27, 2018, hutments along the tracks in Chembur (Deonar) top the survey list, with 2,850 slums, followed by Kurla, where 1,133 slums have been identified. Borivli and Dharavi have 1,089 and 553 slums along the tracks respectively. The official added, “The survey was carried out in these select areas keeping in mind the slum population. In 2016, the railways had given a No-Objection Certificate (NOC) to carry out the survey. The SRA envisions rehabilitating these slum-dwellers and the survey was necessary to determine eligible families. This idea will help free the encroached land along the railway tracks.”
To make the plan a reality, the SRA has also sent a proposal to the Union ministry of railways recently to come up with a policy which will allow redevelopment on railways-owned land. The official remarked, “At present, on railways-owned land no authority can execute any project. But once such a policy is put into place, these families can get houses. The area along the railway tracks is too small to execute SRA projects, from the safety point of view.
Hence, we are in talks with railways to allow projects on larger chunks of land, where the rehabilitation project can be undertaken easily and for that, a policy is required.” The SRA believes if the 96 acres of railways-owned land can be used for for SRA redevelopment projects, more housing stock can be created and slums along the tracks can be cleared effectively.