In an attempt to curb illegal slums from mushrooming on the periphery of villages in rural Maharashtra, the state government has decided to prepare a 20-year Development Plan for each of the villages in the state.
According to a source at the rural development department, the village grampanchayat will be able to reserve certain plots in the village for recreational areas and play grounds, schools, hospitals, etc. “There should be enough number of open spaces. The situation today is such that any person can construct a kaccha house or erect a slum without seeking any legal permission for the same from the authorities,” said the source, on condition of anonymity.
The lack of a DP has been encouraging the construction of illegal slums and authorities fear the situation will be much the fate of cities like Mumbai, where the percentage of illegal slums is rising each year. “Once the residents get an electricity connection and voter identity card on that address, it becomes difficult to for authorities from the administration to have them removed,” said the source. According to him, the illegal slums become a vote bank issue for local politicians even if the slum was originally unauthorised.
According to officers at the rural development department, this current trend is a result of rapid urbanisation in rural Maharashtra. Slum populations are hence a by-product. They hope to curb the expansion of such illegal structures with the DP.
For this purpose, a three-member committee was appointed by the state government to prepare the DP for each village. The report has been submitted to the Chief Minister of the state last week.
According to Jayant Patil, minister of rural development, a Development Plan (DP) will be drawn up for each village to ensure that systematic development over the next two decades. “We have prepared the report and it will soon be tabled before the cabinet for approval. Once this proposal is approved, it will be up to each village to undertake the plan. Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan is positive about this decision,” Patil told dna.
Pankaj Joshi, executive director of Urban Development Research Institute (UDRI) welcomed the move. He said, “I have doubts about the implementation of the DP. Such ideas look good on paper, but when it comes to implementation, government machinery falters.”
Joshi’s concerns are the shortage of architects and planners in the committee which will over the implementation of the DP. “How they will undertake this mammoth DP plan without adequate and skilled manpower,” he said.