Maharashtra government, SBI to set up stress fund for stuck slum rehabilitation projects

MUMBAI: The government of Maharashtra along with the State Bank of India is setting up a stress fund to restart stuck slum rehabilitation projects in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR) and other urban areas of the state.

“The government will infuse Rs 700 crore to Rs 1,000 crore in this fund aimed at providing financial support to revive such projects. SBI will bring in a much larger amount and also be responsible for managing the fund. Slum Rehabilitation Authority will act as a certifying agency,” said the state Housing Minister Jitendra Awhad.

Slum Rehabilitation Authority (SRA) is the nodal agency under the Housing Ministry to implement the slum redevelopment schemes. It has so far issued approvals to total 1,856 such projects aimed at providing over 5 lakh homes to slum dwellers. Around 540 projects of these have been completed, while 370 are stuck for various reasons including financial difficulties.

The minister also announced a series of relaxations in slum redevelopment policy to ensure faster availability of housing for slum dwellers in MMR. Various premiums related to such projects have been relaxed by way of reductions and deferred payments. The approvals of files will be scrutinized at 3 levels now compared to 6 levels earlier thereby reducing the timeline by 50% at all stages.

“The state government’s decision to push SRA development is also keeping in view the city’s readiness to tackle any future pandemics such as Covid-19. As we continue to battle the Covid-19 virus, Mumbai has witnessed an alarming ratio of Covid-19 cases across the slums and a proper housing environment will be the key to safeguard lives and prevent any community spread of such diseases going forward,” he remarked.

Along with the relaxation in premiums and timeline, all SRA projects would be empowered with health centres; authorized committees to relocate religious structures within the project; online approval mechanism and committed continuity in construction of rehabilitation buildings that can only be stopped by specific high court orders.

Highlighting the key purpose of the current relaxations in SRA guidelines, Awhad remarked that the latest relaxations is an outcome of a series of discussions with all stakeholders, post suggestions and objections, which has been further pushed by the current Covid-19 pandemic environment in MMR.

The series of measures undertaken by SRA has also capped the rental amount structure, during the rehabilitation phase, to Rs 1.2 lakh and Rs 96,000 per annum in the city and suburbs zones respectively.

According to the minister, the eligibility of slum dwellers to get the benefit of slum rehabilitation projects will now be carried out entirely by the SRA. Earlier this used to be carried out by 3 different government bodies–Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM), SRA and collector office.

Awhad also added that from now on, SRA will help remove the balance shanties if the developer has secured consent of 70% slum dwellers in the proposed project and already cleared them.

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