Thursday, 3 October 2013


SPARC was involved in the construction of houses and rehabilitation of families living along the railway tracks under the Slum Rehabilitation Scheme, an undertaking of Maharashtra Housing and Development Authority. One of SPARC’s project was the construction of buildings next to the Kanjur Marg railway station in Mumbai. Of the buildings constructed, all but one are occupied by affected families living along the railway lines. The scheme gave incentives to the constructing organization in the form of transfer of development rights and this unoccupied building forms one of them. SPARC has been struggling from the past 5 years to get the necessary sign offs from officers in Railways from the various hierarchies in order to allot the flats to further affected families. 13 officers in various ranks have to grant their approval. With each officer, the staff spends close to half a month negotiating to get his/her approval. No officer agrees to bring the work up to speed unless being adequately compensated, though not ethically.  On several accounts, the officers deny being responsible for approving and shift the accountability to another officer. In the course of 5 years, the unoccupied premises has began to decay due to non use, and is often the center of anti social activities. In dense areas such as Mumbai, where real estate prices are soaring and the Government having ambitious plans of creating slum free cities, it is ironical how the simple work of administrative approvals for already constructed tenements is delayed due to its indifference.

On one hand, the Government wants to prove its commitment towards creating pro-poor solutions, however on the other hand, turns hostile towards the implementer such as NGOs and denies clearing administrative hurdles.

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