It is high time that Maharashtra government and Slum Rehabilitation Authority (SRA) devise a mechanism to ensure slum redevelopment schemes are undertaken in a "professional and time-bound manner", the Bombay High Court has observed.
Weeding away developers who are not genuine, allotting projects in a fair manner and undertaking a study to identify grey areas in the Slum Rehabilitation Act were some of steps suggested by a single bench of Justice G S Kulkarni while deciding a petition pertaining to a slum rehabilitation scheme on government land which has been pending since 1997.
The petition, filed by a city-based developer, had challenged a 2017 order passed by the Apex Grievance Redressal Committee, constituted under the Maharashtra Slum Area (Improvement, Clearance and Redevelopment) Act, 1971.
The committee, in its order, had upheld the decision of the chief executive officer of the Slum Rehabilitation Authority to cancel the appointment of the petitioner as the developer of a suburban society's slum redevelopment scheme.
The high court, dismissing the petition, said, "In the present case, the slum dwellers since 1997 have nurtured an unfulfilled dream to be rehabilitated with a permanent roof over their head and to live in human conditions."
It was high time that the state government and the slum authority devise a substantial and foolproof mechanism by undertaking a study and identifying grey areas in the Slum Rehabilitation Act, it said.
"Redevelopment undertaken professionally and in a time-bound manner is the need of the day. All these efforts are necessary as a step forward to achieve an object of having an ideal city free of slums," Justice Kulkarni said.
"It is never too late," he said in the judgment delivered on Monday.
The court said authorities should weed away and reprimand persons who are not genuine developers and are merely agents and dealers in slum schemes.
"Can the Slum Rehabilitation Authority not have a robust panel of bona fide developers who have genuine business interest to redevelop slums, of course with the commercial benefits as conferred under the rules?" the court said.
Such developers can be appointed in an open and fair manner and made accountable to the SRA, the court added.
"The only mantra for slum schemes to be implemented is its time-bound completion and a machinery to be evolved by the authorities to have effective measures in that direction to monitor the schemes as part of their statutory obligation to avoid delays," the court said.