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Will Slumbai enjoy any of the facial?

Saturday, 27 February 2010 - 2:36am IST | Place: Mumbai | Agency: dna

The big push for slum-free cities in the budget has provided a sliver of hope.

It may take a long time coming Mumbai-wards, but the first adult step, worth Rs1,270 crore up from last year’s baby step of Rs150 crore, has been taken by the finance minister.

Nomenclatured Rajiv Awas Yojana (RAY), the scheme gets a 700% hike in allocation in the country’s effort to be slum-free. Mumbai — the slum capital of India — is waiting impatiently for the largesse.

Though the benefits may not come the city’s way soon,  Gautam Chaterjee, vice chairman and chief operating officer of Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (Mhada), showed excitement about the development. “This is a revolutionary decision by the Centre. Though Mumbai may not get immediate benefit from the decision, this definitely is a first realistic approach towards making it slum free,” Chaterjee told DNA.

He added, “I feel certain cities will be chosen for pilot projects under RAY for eradication of slums. Pimpri-Chinchwad may be one of the cities in Maharashtra. One must understand that though Mumbai is not on the radar directly at the moment, RAY will definitely have a stipulated time-bound plan for the city.”

Chaterjee further hinted that as per the plans of the central government, detailed GIS-based surveys will be conducted for mapping the slum pockets in the city. “The funds provided will have to reach the right people for right reasons. NGOs will play a key role in the rehabilitation process,” he said.

Mumbai’s slum dwellings do not come cheap, according to the BMC’s Human Development Report. “There is a huge alternative social cost in terms of subservience to political agents, slum lords and the other health costs,” said the report, adding, the development of an entire city cannot be advanced if this huge segment is ignored, either because of benign neglect or lack of resources.

On the flip side, boost to affordable housing is lacking in the budget. While analysts believe the decision to widen the income tax slab will increase the capacity of individuals to avail higher loans to purchase flats up to Rs 20 lakh, developers believe otherwise.

“The Centre has also not accepted our demand to extend the 80-IB tax incentive scheme which would have helped developers construct smaller flats,” said Boman Irani, MD of Keystone Realty.

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