Supreme Court tells SRA to give flats to Santacruz slum-dwellers in 2 years

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Thursday ordered Mumbai’s Slum Rehabilitation Authority (SRA) to oust Susme Builders and engage a new reputed builder or developer to provide flats within two years to hapless slumdwellers of Santacruz (East) waiting for proper accommodation for over three decades.

“A dream turned into a nightmare. The dream of over 800 slumdwellers who also happen to be owners of the land of having a permanent roof over their head has not turned into reality for more than three decades,” said the Bench of Justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta in a 86-page judgment. It noted how the slumdwellers are embroiled in various litigations and became victims of “many powerful persons involved, be they builders, promoters and even those slum dwellers who have managed to become office bearers of their society.”

The Court took on record graphic photographs showing the sordid condition of the slum dwellers despite having entered into an agreement with petitioners Sushme Builders, a private firm, more than 30 years back to develop the slums and rehabilitate them in proper accommodation. The land measuring 23018.50 sq metres is situated in the heart of Mumbai that belonged to the Ardeshir Cursetji Pestonji Wadia Trust on which the slum had developed. The trust had initiated eviction of the slum dwellers but it transferred the entire land to them in 1980 to form the Shivaji Nagar Residents’ Association, which in turn later registered a society in the name of Om Namo Sujlam Suflam Cooperative Housing Society. Tracing history of the litigations since then, the Bench ordered SRA to invite letters of interest within three weeks from renowned builders/developers having capacity and experience of large projects, and select the best offer which is better than one by Susme Builders.

It also drew up a calendar under which the builders have to submit plans within one month and given a chance to remove objections, if any by authorities, within another one month. The plans will be approved and sanctions granted latest within two months. “The successful developer should undertake the complete rehabilitation of part of the project to rehabilitate all eligible occupants/slum dwellers within a period of two years from the date of sanction of the plan,” the Court said. It also held that the successful bidder will have to give a bank guarantee of Rs 200 crore which will be invoked in case of violation of terms and conditions.

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