Sunday, January 20, 2013

SRA Scam : Inquiry against six bldrs in SRA scheme

CM Promises Rejig, Seeks Transparent Guidelines
Chief minister Prithviraj Chavan has ordered a probe against six developers after social worker Medha Patkar alleged that they were involved in illegal activities while executing projects under the Slum Rehabilitation Authority (SRA) scheme. The CM has also decided to overhaul the scheme, which is often alleged to be steeped in irregularities.

During a meeting last week, Patkar had told Chavan and home minister R R Patil that the six developers had produced misleading information on beneficiaries of the slum rehabilitation scheme. The CM promised her a thorough probe into the allegations and accordingly, principal secretary (housing) Debashish Chakrabarty on Friday wrote to her saying he would conduct an inquiry against Shivalik (Khar), Satra (Ghatkopar), Saiwala (Jogeshwari), Sumer (Chandivli), Shahana (Sion) and Samarth (Mulund) developers. “Once we receive a specific complaint from Patkar, we will conduct the probe within a month. We will decide on the next course of action after the inquiry,” Chakrabrarty told TOI.

A senior Congress minister said following Patkar’s allegation, Chavan also planned to modify the conditions for the scheme. “The government has received several complaints against developers involved in the SRA scheme. The most common charge is that the builders have fabricated the list of beneficiaries. In fact, the entire list of bogus beneficiaries of one project has been submitted to Chavan,” he said. “In
the backdrop of such irregularities, it is felt that instead of making it developer-driven, the scheme should involve slumdwellers more.”

On the new guidelines, the Congress minister said during Chavan’s interaction with social workers, it was proposed that slumdwellers should have the final say in the projects and under no circumstances, a developer should be offered an opportunity to hijack the scheme.

“More often than not, shantydwellers are left high and dry, while developers benefit; even small-time contractors have become leading builders,” he said. Further elaborating on the proposal, the minister said once slumdwellers agreed to be relocated, the SRA should first float tenders for the construction of tenements and then for the auction of the vacated land. “Either Mhada or a private entrepreneur will build homes for the slumdwellers. Following the rehabilitation, tenders will also be floated for the auction of the land that have been vacated by the slumdwellers; the money will be used to meet the cost of construction of tenements,” he said. The minister said the proposal would be placed before Chavan and later the cabinet for approval. “The CM is keen on a completely transparent plan.”

Alarmed by the mushrooming of slums in the city, the late Shiv Sena leader, Bal Thackeray, had launched a plan to provide free tenements to the poor. A specialpurpose vehicle was also set up to make Mumbai slumfree within a timeframe. “It was Thackeray’s dream project but the scheme failed to be implemented owing to the lack of political will,” a senior Sena leader said.
Prafulla Marpakwar TNN

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