NEW DELHI: Over 29,000 ready-to-move flats constructed for the urban poor under Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission in Delhi have lain vacant for a long time. One of the main reasons behind these flats not being allotted yet is the lack of coordination among the multiple agencies involved.
After the Supreme Court recently ordered the demolition of 48,000 slum houses built on encroached railway land, Delhi government wants to prevent displacement and has asked officials to formulate plans to shift the affected people to these flats.
The AAP government started a survey last year to identify slum inhabitants who were to be shifted, but the partnering surveyors, Delhi Development Authority and Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board, parted ways after a partial assessment of slum clusters.
With DDA having identified 23 slum clusters for in situ redevelopment even as its first two projects at Kathputli Colony and Kalkaji are yet to be completed, by 2021 yearend, Delhi will have 45,000 flats, of which 16,600 are under construction, for allocation to slum residents. Over 20 lakh people live in 675 slum clusters in Delhi, a majority of them located on DDA and Northern Railway land.
A Delhi government official claimed that one reason why no one has been shifted is the reluctance of land-owning agencies to pay Delhi government for the relocation. Under the Delhi Slum & JJ Rehabilitation and Relocation Policy, notified in 2015, a land-owning agency has to pay Rs 7.5-11.3 lakh per flat to DUSIB in advance to meet the cost of construction, land and process of relocating residents of slums. The land-owning agencies benefit by having their plots freed of encroachment.
Of the slum clusters, 499, peopled by 1.7 lakh citizens, are located, ironically, on land belonging to DDA. Established in 1957 to promote a balanced development of the capital, the population of which saw a huge spike after 1947, DDA first formulated a Master Plan for Delhi in 1962. As it now prepares a Master Plan visioned for 2041, half the city’s population lives in informal settlements like slums and unauthorised colonies.
The Municipal Corporation of Delhi carried out the first slum clearance in 1956, intending to free the encroached land for community facilities. The slum dwellers were to be provided flats on licence fee in rehabilitation colonies. The sluggishness of such projects is reflected in DDA’s unfinished, decade-old, in situ slum redevelopment projects at Kathputli Colony and at Kalkaji.
To that DDA has added 23 slum clearances. “Work has begun at six projects with more than 30 clusters. The tendering process is going to start very soon,” a DDA official disclosed. “The in situ slum redevelopment and rehabilitation project of tenable slums situated on DDA land is being done to eventually make Delhi slum-free and achieve the mission of housing for all by 2022.”
On its part, DUSIB has shifted families from various slums erected on land owned by NHAI, PWD and other agencies to 2,157 flats constructed under JNNURM. A DUSIB official revealed that the relocation was made after the land owners made payments as prescribed in the rehabilitation policy. At present, slum dwellers pay 1.12 lakh for a flat plus Rs 30,000 as maintenance fee for five years. Many find it beyond them to pay this amount and get trapped by local money lenders.
Between 2007 and 20013, the then UPA government sanctioned 16 housing projects for the slum dwellers. “The Centre provided Rs 1,120 crore to build 55,424 flats with a matching sum to be contributed by Delhi government,” said former Union minister Ajay Maken.