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Government of Maharashtra kneels down before Corporate-Builder-World Bank nexus

· Government of Maharashtra kneels down before Corporate-Builder-World Bank nexus.
· People-Public-Partnership not Private-Public-Partnership.
· We oppose profit-oriented policy, to struggle and work for a rights enabling policy.

The much awaited Draft Housing Policy, released
yesterday, is a step to boost growth in the Real Estate market and the
aim of Affordable Housing has been kept elusive and a distant dream.
With its 42 percent of population living in slums, which for the
country is 27%, the State of Maharashtra has 26 percent of the
country's total slum dwellers population amounting to 22 lakh families.
The draft Policy should have been a sincere exercise to correct these
distortions, but it has not been so. The Draft is clearly geared
towards not only facilitating but also orienting and supporting the
profiteering motives of the private sector. It widens the scope for the
nexus of builders-corporates-lending agencies to interfere in the
constitutional-pro people-democratic decision making processes. The
proposed Reforms are not social or pro-people rather would further
shrink the available space for the poor in the cities. With the
conspicuous absence of any Civil Society representative on the board,
on contrary having builders in the draft formulation process, was bound
to bring these imbalances.

The concept 'cities without slums' sounds hollow
without a people centric framework of decision-making and
implementation. No city anywhere can be slum less if the drafts of the
housing policy are drafted with having builders on board, whose only
motive is profiteering. Now calling for public debate is, but a
half-heartedly exercise, carried to complete the 'formality' of
people's participation. Urban Renewal in such a scenario is nothing but
a manifestation of urban untouchability as all over, the poor, the
working class, in the name of renewal are facing removal from the
central locations of the cities and being thrown out/ rehabilitated on
the periphery of the cities.

The self-acclaimed progressiveness and
pro-activeness of the State government is bulldozed by the fact that it
has the largest concentration of the slum dwellers in the country that
are forced to exist in in-human, conditions, but amidst vulgar
prosperity of the few, which is being facilitated and supported by
various State players. Though the Government, in the Draft has claimed
for the 'successful' implementation of the existing housing schemes,
like Valmiki Ambedkar Awas Yojana, but the facts point towards the
opposite. The Latest Audit report by the CAG lambasted the government
for irregularities, under and non-utilization of allotted funds, breach
of guidelines, and excessive payments to implementing agencies in the
schemes/programs meant for the slum dwellers

The reported Cabinet's approval to the repeal the Urban land Ceiling
Act(ULCRA) exposes the moral bankruptcy of the government, which
kneeling down, in front of the World Bank and Builders lobby has take
this decision. Implementation of ULCRA can solve, once for all, the
issue of land availability.

With violations of Development Plan and relaxations of the land use
reservations, abound, any proposal of development through Public
Private Partnership of the PH/HD plots is highly objectionable.
The proposal for doing away the responsibility of Collector for
granting permission for any non-agricultural purpose dilutes the
existing checks and balance mechanisms.

Rather than introducing Private Public Partnership model in Housing of
migrant laborers, the provisions of the Inter State Migrant Welfare Act
should be strictly implemented, which fixes the responsibility to the
employer.

· Liberalizing Development Control Rules is clearly a case of
interference of Capital in the legislative domain. What sort of
amendments will be made in the Rent Control Act have not been spelled
out, thus raise suspicion.

In the current scenario the very concept of 'public projects' becomes
contestable. Can any elitist, pro-rich-unsustainable and anti poor
project be defined as a public project? Thus the clause of resettlement
of slums located on infrastructure land and public projects is
objectionable.
In-situ redevelopment of slums through mandatory role of residents by
granting rights to Basti Sabhas should have been clearly spelled out in
the Draft.
Introduction of Competitive Bidding mechanism is an assault on the
people's participation in decision-making processes.
Audit of the Slum Rehabilitation/Redevelopment Scheme should be the
exclusive domain of the slum dwellers/residents themselves, not any
third party.
Construction of five lakh Low Income Group Houses in next three years
is too little as Mumbai alone has 12 lakh families residing in slums.

The fact that the State Government has not bothered for
the Report of the High Powered Committee formed under the Chairman ship
of Chief Secretary, Maharashtra after the directions of Mumbai High
Court in a case filed by NAPM, which was to work for a Affordable
Housing Policy proves beyond doubt the intentions and real
goals/objectives of the government and this draft policy. People along
with the Organizations will take forward the issue of Affordable
Housing Policy, a draft of which has been earlier also submitted to the
concerned. Till the goal of Affordable Housing, which is in congruence
wit heth livelihoods, is achieved, the struggle for the same will
continue.

Simpreet Singh
Mohan Chavan
Anwari Sheikh
Medha Patkar