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State move to amend slum act

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Amendments will stop developers from including non-slum structures in a slum scheme to avail of FSI incentives, says Gajanan Khergamker

In a move aimed to tackle crafty developers from manipulating slum schemes, Minister of state for housing Sachin Ahir tabled a bill for amendments in the Maharashtra Slum Areas (Improvement, Clearance and Redevelopment) Act, 1971 in the legislative assembly earlier this week.

This comes close on the heels of the impeding redevelopment of projects that had been stalled owing to the CRZ caveats. A new CRZ notification provides for a mandatory state government’s involvement of 51 per cent in the proceedings. Around 45 per cent about 206 sq km of land is under CRZ and the notification throws open about 146 slum pockets and 600 dilapidated buildings in South and Central Mumbai for redevelopment. Ideally, the state’s involvement is about 51 per cent stake in all slum projects and partner developments.

Developers keen on jumping on the redevelopment bandwagon will be left twiddling their thumbs as, with the more recent amendment, they will no longer be able to include non-slum buildings in a slum scheme to avail of floor space index (FSI) incentives. The state government has decided to amend provisions of the slum act to curtail misuse of provisions and lend more clarity in the implementation of redevelopment schemes.

Further, the government said that cessed buildings in the island city and old buildings belonging to the corporation would not be eligible for inclusion under a slum scheme. Also, other buildings constructed with permission from relevant agencies and those in an area where redevelopment is on under the urban renewal scheme, and which entails redevelopment of an entire layout, will not be eligible for inclusion.

Earlier, the original act provided for non-slum residential buildings found unfit for habitation or detrimental to the safety and health of locals by being dilapidated, overcrowded, lacking ventilation and sanitation facilities, or having faulty street arrangements and could be notified as a slum area and redeveloped using FSI incentives offered under the slum redevelopment scheme.

It was only after a lot of noise was made about the misuse of the provision that the move was made. Developers could, however, be in a position to club a project for redevelopment of such buildings with an independent project involving redevelopment of surrounding slum structures. Now, the FSI incentives offered for slum redevelopment will not be extended to the non-slum portion.

The amendment calls for the inclusion of a fresh clause stating that the area taken up for slum redevelopment will cease to be a notified slum area on completion of the rehabilitation scheme. Within 30 days of completion of the rehabilitation component, the plot will be transferred in the name of the slum rehabilitation authority, which will lease it to the cooperative society formed by the beneficiary slum-dwellers for a 30-year renewable term.

The provision, aimed to facilitate transfer of conveyance in the name of the society will ensure that the land owning authority is compensated for the plot. The move is expected to benefit 1,000 societies. The plot on which the free sale component is to be constructed would be similarly leased to either the society or the developer. To tackle issues that will inevitably arise regarding the slum scheme, the state will appoint a grievance redressal committee to hear them, in keeping with a specific directive from the Bombay High Court. Clauses will be inserted to ensure developers require to register themselves with the slum rehabilitation authority ( SRA) and specifying ‘eligible slum-dweller’ have been introduced.

Ahir said provisions for decentralisation of appellate authority, where appeals could be filed, had also been incorporated.  The amendments are expected to come up for discussion in the assembly next week.

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