After dolling out unprecedented sops and regularising pre-2000 slums ahead of the Lok Sabha elections, the Congress-NCP state government has decided not to give any more houses free of cost to illegal slum dwellers in the city.
"The free-of-cost housing schemes cost heavily to the state exchequer. It also encourages rise of slums in the city. Ten years ago, 56% of people were staying in slums, now it is almost 62%. If we continue with such popular schemes, then people will illegally occupy open spaces by making makeshift houses and demand regularisation again. Such practices need to be nipped in the bud. Otherwise it will increase the burden on the state government and honest tax payers will feel cheated," said an official of the state housing department, requesting anonymity.
Confirming the decision, state housing minister Sachin Ahir said henceforth housing schemes and slum redevelopment will be undertaken under the Rajeev Awas Yojana (RAY).
"As per RAY scheme, besides the state and central government's monetary contribution, an illegal dweller has also to contribute to get the pakka houses in redevelopment scheme. Nothing will come for free to slum dwellers," he said.
"To curb illegal sprawling of slums, the central government's RAY scheme will be implemented in the city. I hope politicians will stick to this decision and not change their mind ahead of elections for vote-bank politics," said a senior government official.
Anand Gupta, secretary of Builder Association of India (BAI), told dna that the state government's decision to regularise pre-2000 slums was wrong.
"The decision will not stand in the court of law. The state government itself has given in writing in the Supreme Court a few years ago that they will not protect illegal slums in the city. How can the government go against its own decision? It is contempt of court. Therefore, the Congress-NCP run state government approved regularising pre-2000 slums in the cabinet. But they did not issue any ordinance in this regard. So, the cabinet decision has no legal sanctity," Gupta said.
"The state government is fooling people. The state government should focus on infrastructure development programmes and waiving off various taxes that can reduce the housing cost in Mumbai. It will make buying houses affordable," Gupta said.