Mumbai: The Maharashtra government has decided to take an egalitarian view of SRA projects.

It has been accordingly decided that developers undertaking slum rehabilitation housing projects will not draw a distinction between the rich and the poor; on the ground, this means slum dwellers and other buyers will be housed in the same building.

This, State Housing Minister Jitendra Awhad is convinced, will improve the quality of the structures and lead to better living conditions.

Presently, developers construct two buildings – one, where they rehabilitate the slum dwellers; the other, which they sell in the open market and make their profit.

According to Awhad, this has contributed to the poor quality of structures for slum-dwellers, with no proper amenities. Another step in this direction would be the setting up of a new quality control cell to monitor the rehab building structures.  

Giving the rationale for his egalitarian approach, the minister said the city has got its recognition from the working class, which has resided in slums and chawls.

Several prominent personalities like Marathi Dalit poet Namdeo Dhasal, Comrade Shripad Amrit Dange, orator, poet and playwright PK Atre, social reformer Annabhau Sathe, and Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar, did not reside in plush high-rises.

Therefore, there will be greater thrust to providing houses to the poor and the middle-class.Besides, the minister has found a way to circumvent what is usually an impediment in a slum redevelopment project. As per the new decision, the current occupants of the hutments or shanties will be considered the owners of the new houses.

In other words, if a slum-owner has rented his house to another person, the current occupant will be counted for the new house, believing that the original owner has no house requirement.

As per Awhad, about 10 per cent of slum-dwellers have rented their houses. Till now, builders were confronted with two problems – of the original slum-owner and the renter-occupant, both demanding a free house each in the project, making it unviable. This is the reason for several SRA projects being in limbo.

Also, the SRA housing projects are affected by lack of liquidity. Until now, developers had to pay the entire premium amount to the SRA and MHADA to obtain project approval.

But under the new policy, developers can pay on a 20:80 basis -- 20 per cent at the time of obtaining the commencement certificate and the rest at the time of obtaining the occupancy certificate (OC). With their funds thus freed, developers can now spend on civil works. Until now, these works would remain incomplete for lack of funds.

The preparation of Annexure-II (the list of eligible slum-dwellers) used to be a time-consuming process and this would push the project deadline. So, now, the government has decided to set up a dedicated cell at the SRA headquarters in Bandra to achieve timely completion of these projects.

Also, an auto development control regulation (DCR) system will be enforced to accelerate the technical scrutiny of slum rehabilitation schemes and increase transparency. 

The government has also decided to implement the SRA scheme in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region along the lines of Mumbai, wherein the needy will get 300 square feet of new houses free of cost.

The State Bank of India has been asked to recommend measures to make these projects viable. There will be parking provisions for slum-dwellers also, in the housing schemes. The limit for the use of slum transferable development rights (TDR) too has been increased to 30 per cent, from the earlier 20.

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