Maharashtra Faces CAG Fire On Failure To Make Airport Land Slum-Free
It was about 10 years back when plans to make area around the Mumbai Airport, formally known as Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport, slum-free was first made. While the state government took on board Housing Development and Infrastructure Ltd (HDIL) in 2007 to build new homes for about 8,000 families, prodding kept coming from outside, too, as the illegal occupation of the prime government land kept creating other troubles. Since water supply to the entire city was getting affected owing to the illegal occupation in the area, the Bombay High Court (HC) had in October 2009 directed the Maharashtra government to remove the encroachments along the pipelines. With time, a private hand was hired to build alternative housing units for these families.
Ten years on, not much has been achieved. The developer has not been able to build all the homes it was asked to. But, and more importantly, no shifting has taken place over “non-finalisation of the list of eligible slum dwellers” so far.
According to a report by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India which was recently tabled in the state Assembly on March 28, the Slum Rehabilitation Authority (SRA) and the Housing Department of the state failed to shift slum-dwellers.
"Though (some of) the tenements were ready for rehabilitation, SRA had not taken the possession of these tenements from the builder due to non-finalisation of the list of eligible slum dwellers," said the report.
"No slum dwellers could be shifted from the airport land even 10 years after the scheme was taken up, defeating the objective of clearance of slums from airport land which continue to pose a grave security threat to the safety, security and operations of the Mumbai airport," it added.
Lack of co-ordination among the government bodies led to the situation, the report indicated.
The CAG report also noted that the SRA granted an undue favour to a private developer while approving a scheme for rehabilitation of project-affected people in eastern Mumbai.
"The SRA sanctioned a slum rehabilitation scheme on a private land owned by a developer in village Mahul for construction of 8,582 PAP tenements… The Bhabha Atomic Research Centre objected to the scheme as it fell inside its buffer zone, and raised concerns of a potential threat to national security. Similar concerns were raised by Hindustan Petroleum since the tenements were adjacent to their Mumbai refinery," the CAG said.
Apart from the fact that it sanctioned the construction, the SRA also gave an undue benefit of Rs 156.85 crore to the builder while giving him transferable development rights, the CAG noted. The project was, however, scrapped in October 2013.
With inputs from Housing News