Origins and evolution

Wednesday, 15 January 2014 - 11:29am IST | Agency: DNA
Vaishali Sadansingh, CPRO, MHADA, shares details of its role as the shelter provider for the state and initiatives to make Mumbai free of slums.

The state of Maharashtra has a special place in India. In the field of housing also, Maharashtra state has showed the way to the rest of our country. The basic and prime object of MHADA is to upgrade the standard of living of the people in the state. In the last six decades it has provided houses to 6 lakh in the state.

With rapid industrialisation, the issue of hosuing became crucial for the government as migrants in search of employment came to the city and settled even on the pavements and vacant plots where they could. This gave rise to the housing shortage and the necessity to  have a housing board to tackle the issue was felt.

The government’s efforts to provide houses and homes started in 1949. The government of then Bombay province, set up Bombay Housing Board to look after the housing problem in Mumbai city.

There was also Bombay Development Department of the state government, which built BDD chawls for poor people. There was a Bombay Improvement Trust, another government body for housing.

After the formation of Maharashtra state, the housing movement got a proper direction and momentum. The government came forward to build houses and homes for the poor and needy. Unlike private sector, profit was not the motive in the government efforts.

The government body, Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority or MHADA has been constructing houses at affordable prices.  Hitherto it has built 6 lakh houses in the state of which 2 lakh homes are in Mumbai.

The state government felt an urgent need to make legal provisions for the entire area in and around Mumbai. So Bombay Municipal Area and Development Authority (BMRDA) was set up in 1976.  Later it was decided to launch similar schemes for the entire state.  So the MHADA  Act was made. On May 1, 1960 the state of Maharshtra was formed. Bombay Housing Board was renamed and restructured as Maharashtra Housing Board (MHB). 

Later, on December 5, 1976 today’s Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority came into existence as per the regulation in 1976 of MHADA act.

It spread its wings and covered the entire area of the state. It encompassed 9 housing boards at places like Pune, Nasik, Kokan, Amaravati, Aurangabad, Nagpur etc., and also the Mumbai Housing and Area Development Board, Mumbai Repair & Reconstruction Board and Mumbai Slum Improvement Board.

Massive Schemes with World Bank Assistance

In 1984, MHADA launched two massive schemes of development. It secured world bank assistance for these works. they were as follows:

Development of about 65000 plots: Upgrading the category of some 80000 families living in slums. In all 164 cooperative housing societies of 20000 families were allotted land on lease.
Individual loans of Rs.5000 to Rs14000 were also given to improve the hutments.

Prime Minister Grant Scheme: In December 1985, the then Prime Minister declared a grant of Rs.100 crores for the benefit of small income groups. MHADA launched following 3 schemes under this grant:
1.    Slum Improvement: This scheme was to upgrade the living standard of the slum dwellers by providing them better facilities. MHADA specially organized slums in difficult and in dangerous areas. 

2.     Urban Renovation: Earlier policy to dismantle the old building and rebuild it was changed. Instead, the entire area was considered for the redevelopment.

3.     Dharavi Improvement scheme: Dharavi is called the largest slum area in Asia. Its characteristic is the large number of huts side-by-side to each other and the small industries in them. Thus Dharavi slums have both industrial and residential features. So redevelopment of both the activities was undertaken.

International Year of Shelter to the Homeless
In the year 1985, the central government had emphasized well-planned housing for slums and urban people under the 20 point program. Accordingly, in tune with the objectives of the International Year of Shelter to the Homeless, MHADA also launched various additional schemes. The aim was to carry the concept of housing to the poor sections of the society like coolies, workers in bidi making and other industries to help them.

Slum Improvement Scheme

True to its objective, he housing authority is committed to upgrade the standard of living of the slum dwellers. The slum improvement board was instituted for this very cause. The board provided public toilets and roads, sanitation, street lights and many other facilities.

Earlier on the guidelines of Afzalpurkar committee a scheme was launched to provide 225 sq ft tenement to the slum dwellers on MHADA land free of cost.

Unfortunately this scheme did not get desired response for following reasons; multi-storied huts built in many slums, private builders’ preference only for commercially suitable areas, infighting among slum dwellers and they also thought that the area of 225 square feet was insufficient for growing population of the families, etc.

Besides, to upgrade the standard of living of the slum dwellers many other schemes were also implemented by MHADA including Center’s Valmiki Ambedkar Awas Yojana, for the benefit of slum dwellers in below poverty line. Both, the central and the state governments provided subsidy of 50% each for construction and upgradation of slums.

There was a sub-plan named ‘Nirman Bharat Abhiyan’ to improve the entire surroundings. Public toilets are provided under this sub-plan. Persons living in slums before 1/1/95 are eligible. SC/ST get priority.

 Besides, two more revolutionary schemes ‘Jawaharlala Nehru National Urban Renewal Scheme’ and ‘Rajiv Awas Yojana’ are being implemented by the housing authority . the basic obejectives of this sechmes is to make slum free india.

Thus, effective implementation of National Housing Policy 2007 is possible and the concept of slum free cities can be accomplished.

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