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Govt decision on airport slum rehab is another FSI scam in making

Clara Lewis | Sep 11, 2014, 11.46 PM IST

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MUMBAI: The state government on Thursday issued a notification that it will carry out in-situ (on site) rehabilitation of the four lakh slum dwellers who inhabit 309 acres of the Mumbai airport. The notification, mentioning a letter by the aviation minister, states that the slum area poses a grave security threat.

But the government has already given away a chunk of the slums’ floor space index (FSI) in the form of transfer of development rights (TDR) to realty firm HDIL in lieu of tenements (the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority, or MMRDA, had refused to accept the tenements, saying they were of inferior quality).

Observers and activists have termed the notification as yet another FSI scam in the making. “If they are not accepting the tenements, what is being done to get the TDR back?” said an expert.

Officials from the urban development department said that it is on the Centre’s request that the state has stepped in to help carry out rehabilitation; besides, there is strong resistance from the slum dwellers to move out. “The government will incorporate a specific regulation for slum rehabilitation scheme (SRS) implementation and modify the development control regulations. We hope this will serve as a precursor for SRS on other central government lands,” said an urban development official.

As for the TDR given to HDIL, they said it was only for 20,000 tenements. “These 20,000 families need to be shifted out as there are height restrictions in the area. We may not be able to utilize the entire SRA FSI of three,” said an official.

Denying that the SRS was a real estate project, he said a survey would be carried out to decide on eligibility.

MIAL has refused to comment on the entire matter.

The airport is spread over 1,982 acres across three assembly constituencies—Vile Parle, Kalina and Kurla. Political parties across the spectrum are happy that the slum dwellers, who are vote banks, will be rehabilitated on site, which has been their longstanding demand.

One of the biggest challenges to remove the slums around the airport is an absence of vacant land within three kilometres for resettlement and rehabilitation. BJP activist N Sureshsan from Sahar said agitation has been going on since 2007 for rehabilitation on airport land as per guidelines laid out in the National Rehabilitation and Resettlement Policy. “If the government is doing it in-situ, this is good news. The government must ensure that locals are employed at the airport,” he said.

In the notification, the state has invited objections and suggestions within a month.

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