REDEVELOP SLUMS FOR MIGRANTS

PROVOKED: It is Mauvin Gudinho, who represents the Dabolim constituency, who is the evil genius behind the Bhumiputra bill as the majority of his voters are migrants settled in Zuarinagar.

By Arvind Pinto

Scrap the Bhumiputra Act and replace it with a slum re-development project on the lines of Mumbai. This will protect the land and property of the real bhumiputras who are niz Goenkars.

AS Goa continues to draw people from different parts of the country to provide various skilled and unskilled services at booming construction sites, household sector, repairs and hospitality, the requirement for housing for the migrant people coming in search of greener pastures, housing for them has become a pressing and contentious priority. While still not a stark reality, the provision of housing for the poor and the marginalized would be a social phenomenon requiring redressing in shanty towns and sprawling slums which are becoming a sore blight upon the verdant landscapes of an agricultural Goa.
The recently enacted Bhumiputra Adhikarini Act with its indirect political largesse in the upcoming elections, seeks to legitimize land right for those occupying or trespassing on Goa’s variously deeded lands. However, for a macro redevelopment of these areas, it would be useful to learn from the experience of other urban centers. Let’s consider the Mumbai experience.

MUMBAI EXPERIENCE

MUMBAI, once called Bombay, is an old city, which started off as seven islands in the year 1600. It went on to become the commercial and financial capital of the country. This metropolis, that was once a textile hub from the 1930’s till around the 1960’s, then developed into a financial capital drawing millions from around the country. While the richer classes were able to afford suitable housing, the poor and working classes had to eke out a living in clusters that with overcrowding soon turned into sprawling slums. Interestingly enough, in the 1920’s, the need of the newly constructed textile mills required manpower, but there were few willing to come and live in Bombay. It was then that the Bombay Development Department of the then colonial government constructed 50,000 tenements on what was then reclaimed land at Worli, Naigaon and Lower Parel. These were leased to textile workers and government servants.
With the increasing population in the city and especially after Independence those who came to earn a livelihood found out that housing was a scare commodity and slums were the only solution for the poor.
In the 50s and the 60s the government had no policy with regard to slums. But as the slums burgeoned on every available open space across Bombay, the initial governmental reaction was to keep demolishing and clearing them. We have probably forgotten the demolishment drives that were undertaken during the Emergency of 1975 and the human suffering caused to the many migrant Mumbaikar. This was the period when the Maharashtra Slum Areas Act was passed, where slums were demolished and people relocated to the outskirts or fringes of the city proper. Settlements were built at Mankhurd and other distant suburbs and attempts made to resettle the displaced slum dwellers in the townships.
In the mid-80’s the local government drew up a plan for slum up-gradation. Slums were given the basic facilities of piped drinking water, electricity and the provision of sewage systems. All this helped better the quality of the life of those who lived there instead of the slums. The setting up of the Slum Rehabilitation Authority in 1995 envisioned the making of a slum-free Mumbai.
As per the said act all those living in slums built until January 1, 2000 were legally protected and they could not be removed without offering them free rehabilitation tenement accommodation. As per the scheme those slum dwellers who get homes free of cost, they could not sell or rent them out for a period of 10 years. If the homes were sold after the lock down period of 10 years the State government is entitled to the prevailing stamp duty or a sum of Rs1 lakh, whichever is higher.
Under this scheme, the slum land is given to builders with additional FSI. They in turn develop the land and are required to provide free tenements to all the existing slum dwellers. Additional apartments built sold off at market rates. Besides there are also income tax benefits that are available subject to the fulfillment of certain conditions.

BOON FOR PEOPLE

AS per the SRA site, 1,481 projects have been undertaken. Some of these have been completed while other projects are in progress. Around one-third of these schemes have unfortunately failed to take off the ground, since the builders have abandoned the projects. For these projects involved several areas of consensus, first among the slum dwellers, then between the latter with the developer and with the Slum Development Authority. With little records of ownership and with bureaucratic delays, many projects are unable to make headway.
Unfortunately, many developers, while curtailing the amenities being given to the slum dwellers, ensured that the purchasers of the new constructions were given special privileges. Builders thereby ensure that there is a sufficient interest in these buildings.
On the other hand, there are projects that have been completed. Many of the smaller projects involved a few families who have seen the light of day, where the slum dwellers have been allotted new tenements; while the builders have sold apartments to people who are able to afford to pay for them. Builders have been able to retain their share of profits, since they obtain income-tax benefits for executing the joint development projects in the larger interests of a cross section of the people.
The reality of our urban landscape is the inevitable growth of slums. They offer shelter to those who constantly migrate to the cities in search of employment and a decent life. Many of them cannot afford regular housing and so are forced to live in slums. The SRA model in Maharashtra, despite the limitations, is undoubtedly one positive solution to help the re-development of slums.
The model can with modifications suit local needs and could effectively be implemented in Goa. If this policy is initiated at an early enough stage it would help in ensuring that growing slums in Goa do not expand to scar the much loved landscapes which are rapidly becoming more and more urbanized.

One thought on “REDEVELOP SLUMS FOR MIGRANTS”

  1. POGO & BHUMIPUTRA are Two Sides of the Same Coin. POGO & BHUMIPUTRA are a clear cut Discrimination Bills and against the Indian Constitution & Indian Culture. Speaking against Humanity in front of Humans is a clear cut Politics of Hates. Politics of Hates has no place in a Peaceful Goa. Goans don’t want violence, please.

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