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Published On: Tue, Feb 4th, 2014

“Slum Free India” – Rajiv Awas Yojana

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Maharashtra state government has decided to implement the Rajiv Awas Yojana (RAY), the affordable housing scheme for slum-dwellers. Anyhow, Slum Rehabilitation Authority (SRA) scheme has succeeded to certain extent but that gave birth to Land mafias and criminal type of builders. Metropolitans like Mumbai can be turned into better place with better implementation of SRA scheme. However, elections are nearby so government is pouring schemes by eyeing on larger section of societies and convert them to vote bank. Repeatedly, government has failed in launching different type of housing schemes. Mumbai is cursed with illegal encroachment but government is not bothered about it. On the other hand, people in Campa-cola society have purchased their flats, paying EMI’s and taxes, but they’re termed illegal, whereas trespassers are rewarded with free flats at the taxpayers expenses. I’m surprised with this vote bank politics.

This is Congress’s biggest strategies that they announce schemes ahead of elections. They are eyeing on the vote of poor people. I met many slum dwellers and talked to them. I was surprised to hear their assumption, one of the slum residents say, if we vote for Congress then we may get a house under this UPA’s Rajiv Awas Yojana. They don’t know where to apply, what is the procedure, how to avail this facility. They just hope that some miracle may happen and they may be blessed with shelter. Congress has never thought better future of poor people. The oldest party wants you to remain poor so that they can fool you. Elections are nearby so they are pleasing you for votes. After the elections they want you to remain in those slums only. Politicians always move towards slums for votes because they know that they cannot fool educated people.

With the Rajiv Awaas Yojana (RAY), the Union government’s flagship scheme for ‘slum-free India’ by 2022, proving to be a non-starter in Mumbai, the state government now plans to ask the Centre to concede to a separate set of norms for the city. This would include reducing the cut-off year for eligibility, demand for increasing the Centre’s contribution, addressing the issue of land paucity and slum density in Mumbai. Minister of state for housing Sachin Ahir said with a court-mandated freeze on extending the cut-off date for free housing to slum dwellers in the city, Mumbai cannot follow RAY’s guideline of granting ‘inheritable lease rights’ to all those who have been residing in slums for over five years. If the State Government is not giving respect for the direction of the High Court rulings what else can be expected from others and is this is called good governance? The Judiciary has to act swiftly in the best interest of the governance and put on hold the move of the State Government, which is doing it for the sake of votes and to divert the attention of the slum dwellers. Is the State Government sleeping all these years and why so much of love at the time of elections? I hope the people of the state will teach a fitting lesson to the ruling alliance of Congress-NCP by completely rejecting them.

Under the scheme, the State has to provide shelter and basic civic and social services for slum-dwellers. The ambitious Rajiv Gandhi Awas Yojna (RAY), a Centre-sponsored flagship scheme and aimed at making cities slum free, is moving at a snail’s pace in the Mira Bhayander region which is among the 24 cities in the State that have been selected as beneficiaries for the mass housing project. Aimed at providing housing units to slum dwellers in the twin-city, the scheme was sanctioned by the general body in September, 2010. Subsequently, 33 slum clusters were identified and tenders floated in June 2011 to carry out their socio-economic, biometric and technical survey. Gandhinagar (Gujarat) based Wapcos Limited was awarded a 1.80 crore contract with an initial payment of Rs. 16 lakh. However, even after two years, only 11,000 out of the 47,000 units, housed in the 33 slum clusters, were covered under the survey so far. For houses constructed under RAY, the Central government would provide 50 per cent of the cost, the State Government would bear 25 per cent.

With an allocation of Rs. 32,230 crore in the 12th Five Year Plan, RAY aims at rebuilding slum settlements, providing them with social and physical infrastructure and easy access to institutional credit. While public land is made available free of cost, RAY requires the beneficiary to bear 25 per cent of the construction cost, with the state and Centre chipping in 25 and 50 per cent. A similar pattern of funding is followed for infrastructure provision with the exception that the beneficiary’s 25-per cent share is borne by the urban local body.

As per estimates, the state government will have to shell out as much as Rs. 10,000 crore if it has to provide its share. Let the state government and central government spend crores of rupees on such aimless schemes but the question remains here is, “how can government give free land to people who illegally occupy public land?

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