Slums are a big problem in Mumbai. Thousands of people flock to the maximum city in search of jobs and a better life, but the high cost of property in the city forces them to stay in shanties. What can be done to help these people and provide them with proper housing? NDTV spoke to the experts who suggested 5 ways to rid Mumbai of the 'Slumbay' tag.
1) Conduct Proper Surveys To identify Slum Dwellers
The first thing to do is to conduct scientific surveys to figure out the exact number if slums and slum dwellers. The survey can also be used to identify facilities that they lack and make plans to build them at a later stage. A proper survey will also help weed out slum lords who force slum dwellers to pay extortionate rates for the right to stay in these shanties.
2) Use Government Agencies Instead of Private Builders
The next thing to do is to use government agencies more extensively to build slum-rehabilitation homes. Most experts agree that agencies like the Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (MHADA) have great track records when it comes to building affordable homes in time and according to targets, unlike private builders who often delay slum rehabilitation projects.
3) Empower Government Agencies And Hold Them Accountable
The government should also empower agencies like MHADA and the slum rehabilitation authority (SRA) while giving them fixed targets to deliver slum-rehabilitation homes. These agencies should also be held accountable if they fail to deliver their quote of housing stock on time. For instance, the SRA is infamous for not meeting its targets and should be revamped to make it more proactive and effective.
4) Build Slum Rehabilitation Homes Within the City
Land in Mumbai is not cheap and so slum-rehabilitation homes are often built on the outskirts of the city where prices are more affordable. But most slum-dwellers either work or have their own businesses within the city and do not want to travel 40 to 50 kilometers every day to get to work. The government will have to work out a way to build homes within city limits in order to encourage more slum-dwellers to opt for slum rehabilitation schemes.
5) End The Culture Of Free Housing
Experts say giving houses worth crores of rupees to people who have illegally encroached on land will only encourage more slums, with people expecting free homes after a few years. Instead, the idea is to build large-scale rental housing schemes for slum dwellers where nominal rents can be charged. This effectively allows them to stay in proper homes, without giving them ownership rights.
"The right is for shelter, not for free property worth millions of rupees. The smallest flat that is being given out in Mumbai today costs between 20 lakhs to 2 crore rupees. When you do something like that, you are penalizing the honest and inviting corruption." – Shailesh Gandhi, Housing Expert and RTI Activist