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Mumbai authorities "ignore" livelihood issues in new "affordable" housing offer, large-scale slum eviction feared

By Our Representative
Two well-known Mumbai-based non-profits working among the city's urban poor, Ghar Bachao Ghar Banao Andolan (GBGBA) and Habitat and Livelihood Welfare Association (HLWA), have alleged that "thousands of housing of poor in Mumbai are under threat of eviction" following the "much hyped" decision of the authorities to come up with the Development Plan or DP 2034.
Released by the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM), one of its main features is claimed to be the intention to create "affordable housing stock to address the problem of housing paucity for the poor in the city."
However, GBGBA-HLWA, in a statement, say that "the definition of affordability is merely based on two parameters -- size and cost", though actually "affordability in real sense of the term needs to be defined in terms of cost, tenement size, livability, sustainability and adequacy."
According to GBGBA-HLWA, "Construction or redevelopment of new buildings is not the only means by which affordable housing can be attained. Rather up-gradation and retrofitting of slums are also a means of achieving it."
The non-profits add, "It is very important to ensure that the share of land for the poor in the city does not further shrink. This is of utmost importance when approximately 42% of the city's population lives in slums."
Say GBGBA-HLWA, "The houses currently available (both by Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority or MHADA and private sector) under the affordable housing segment out-prices not just the lower income group (LIG) and economically weaker sections (EWS) but the middle income group (MIG) category too."
Believes GBGBA-HLWA, "The prevalent minimum price for housing under the affordable housing segment is such that it excludes a huge chunk of the population to take benefits of this feature of DP 2034. These exclusionary practices make the poorest of poor citizen of the city perpetually vulnerable to demolition of their self-built housing/hutments."
"For instance", the non-profits point out, "A huge settlement of poor comprising of 600 household in Cheeta Camp near Trombay is scheduled to be demolished in the first week of May this year. All the residents of this settlement possess ration card which record their annual income less than Rs 1 lakh."
They add, "None of the housing in the present affordable housing segment is available either in Mumbai or the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR) can be availed by persons belonging to this income category. In the foreseeable future therefore we see homelessness on the rise due to anticipated demolitions."
Noting that "affordable housing is not the only solution to address the problem of housing", GBGBA-HLWA say, "Housing built under affordable housing scheme most of the time ends up serving merely as an asset and not the housing solution."
Underlining that "housing cannot be looked in complete isolation, it is very much linked with livelihood", the non-profits say,"Given high value of in the city most of the affordable housing has been constructed in the fringes of MMR region which adds to the drudgery of travelling work place and daily affair adding increased health spending and high stress levels."
This apart, GBGBA-HLWA say, there is "not much clarity on the accompanying infrastructure which is necessary to absorb the pressure due to increased floor space index (FSI)." They add, "The maximum FSI of 5 granted for commercial purposes and 4 for residential purposes will create huge burden on the already congested city."
Contend GBGBA-HLWA, "Increasing FSI for redevelopment of Bombay Development Department BDD chawls will again start re-congesting the island city. With no proper arrangements for infrastructures like parking, water facilities etc., the quality of life is bound to deteriorate."
"In the garb of creating affordable housing stock, non-development zones and salt pans are being converted to special development zone to allow entry of real estate led exploitation of these eco-sensitive areas", say GBGBA-HLWA, adding, "While on the other hand, in the absence of a practical plan, the space for the poorest of the poor in the city still remain a question amidst claims for sabka sath sabka vikas."

Comments

Uma Sheth said…
In today's ToI it is mentioned that the area for affordable housing is not specified. The builders will take advantage which, I suppose, is the purpose of the whole exercise. After all, the government has to think of state elections next year

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