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Gujarat slum policy proposes authority to "manage" slums, permits Swiss route to private developers

By Rajiv Shah
The Gujarat government is all set to form Gujarat Affordable Housing and Slum Rehabilitation Authority (GAHSRA), with sweeping powers, under the chairmanship of the the state chief minister to “manage” and “develop” state slums in the state's urban areas. Draft of the Gujarat Slum Rehabilitation and Redevelopment Policy, 2013, in possession of  www.counterview.net, at the same time, seeks to add yet another bureaucratic ladder at the local urban self-governing level under the chairmanship of municipal commissioner in municipal corporation area, chairman of the urban development in the urban development authority area, and the district collector in municipality area. The new structure would be called Slum Rehabilitation Authority (SRA)..
The policy has been worked out as the previous one, of 2010, had become a non-starter. The previous policy had wanted to involve private developers (like this one) to take up slum rehabilitation on lines of Asia's biggest slum area, Dharavi, in Mumbai, by allowing free floor space index (FSI) in lieu of building free apartments for slum dwellers. The new policy does not just seeks to relax this further, but allow what it calls “Swiss route”, under which the developer will bypass the competitive bidding process.
Of course, the policy does say that “to develop slums, the private developers will be have to go into “the conventional two-bid system”. However, it is quick to add, there will be a Swiss challenge route, too, in “exceptional cases”, under which no bids will be required because the under it the project would be “involving innovation”.
The policy speaks of powers with all new authorities to “review and make an an inventory of status of slum areas and lands in urban areas for provision of dwelling units for slum rehabilitation”. The authorities will have the right to “demolish buildings unfit for human habitation in a slum area”, to “rehabilitate and redevelop slum area”, to “formulate schemes for rehabilitation of slum area”, to “declare any slum area to be slum clearance area”, to “get slum rehabilitation scheme implemented”, and to “partner with private sector , slum dweller community and NGOs for implementation of slum rehabilitation schemes.”
Even as saying that it “may” involve “experts to facilitate” slum rehabilitation, the policy says, the authority will have powers to “notify any area in an urban area occupied by slum dwellers as a slum area and further as a ‘slum rehabilitation area’ for the purpose of rehabilitation of that slum.” In case the slum-dwellers have any objection, they will be allowed to represent to this authority alone.
“The SRA shall, on the merits resolve the grievance(s) by giving direction to the developer or any other persons related to slum rehabilitation”, the policy says, adding, any person aggrieved by the order of the SRA “may, within 21 days of the publication of such order”, prefer an appeal to the GAHSRA, headed by the CM, and its “decision” will be final.
In the section on “strategies of slum rehabilitation”, the policy says that the “private developers will be incentivized” to redevelop slums “on public land as a preferred option”. However, if the “private developers do not come forward, rehabilitation of notified slums will be undertaken by the concerned the SRA”.
As for the slums on private land, the “owner of the slum land will have the first opportunity to rehabilitate the slum”, the policy says, adding, “Any other private developer may buy development rights from the owner of the slum area to rehabilitate the slum.” It further adds, “The owner may surrender his land to the SRA for slum rehabilitation, in lieu of which he shall be compensated by payment of 50 per cent of bid amount received for land.”
The private developers, the policy says, would be allowed “FSI of 3 on slum rehabilitation plot”. But this would “not form the basis for computation of free sale development.” However, if “a part of slum rehabilitation plot remains unutilized after slum rehabilitation, it shall be available to private developer for development for free sale as he deems fit. Total permissible free sale development shall be a sum of two components – built up area of slum rehabilitation” and built up area as per the maximum permissible free FSI of 1.8 computed with respect to slum rehabilitation plot.”
In the section on “slum community participation”, the draft policy says it “shall be ensured at every stage”, adding, “For effective planning and implementation by the selected developer, NGOs/CBOs may be engaged by the developer for participation of slum community and their smooth rehabilitation.” It adds, “community participation” would be “sought” by seeking “cooperation in mapping, survey, registration and creation of database leading to preparation of slum rehabilitation scheme plan”, “micro-planning during preparation of slum rehabilitation scheme”, and “implementation and operation and maintenance of the rehabilitated slum.”
Among the “options” to be provided to the slum dwellers include allotment of a dwelling unit in the in-situ slum rehabilitation scheme (SRS)”, but in case the “beneficiary chooses not to be so rehabilitated within SRS then the beneficiary shall be entitled to get rehabilitated in any private affordable housing scheme prescribed within the same city by the selected developer.” The policy adds, “The allottee or his legal heirs shall not transfer the dwelling unit for at least 20 years from the date of getting the possession.”
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For full text of the new draft slum policy, click HERE

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