Feb 24, 2007

Mumbai's Slum Scandal

With the economic boom, Mumabi aspired to become and international megapolis. This can not happen with more than 50% of the population living in the slums and shanty towns. A plan to replace slums with towers has been in place and running for the past 16 years. The target of 1 Million units to be built has not been met. Only about 65,000 units have been built.

The scheme was a part of Shiv Sena and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) election manifesto that came into effect in 1996. It allows a builder to approach any slum colony and offer to redevelop it. The builder constructs free houses on part of the land for the slum's residence. The remaining area can be used to sell apartments at the market rate. The area under the free apartments defines the area that can be sold in the free market.

To go ahead with the plan, the builder must get an agreement by a certain percentage of the slum population. Builder must create a list of population eligible under this scheme. Builders have been accused of inflating the list so that they can build more units than actually needed.

Another example of a law of best intentions going wrong in Mumbai.

The scheme was not aligned with the interest of the city dwellers right from the start. Instead it was tilted to provide benefits to the builders. Dinesh Afzalpurkar a retired bureaucrat who headed the committee that devised the scheme wanted the efforts to be first concentrated on slums near arterial roads, water pipelines and storm water drains. The committed filled with politicians and builders shot this suggestion down.