The Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) handed over a slum rehabilitation project at a prime location off Tilak Road to a private builder on Friday, triggering a debate among the elected members of the civic body over the decision.
One group of elected members backed the move. The other claimed that the decision was taken by ignoring the directives of the high court.
The members of the second group claimed that the court had suggested the PMC should build the slum rehabilitation scheme on its own because it owned the land. They asserted the decision was likely to cause loss of revenue to PMC.
The proposal to redevelop the Hirabaug slum at Shukrvakar Peth had come up for discussions at the general body meeting of PMC on Friday. The NCP, Congress, BJP and Shiv Sena supported the move to give the project to a private builder. The Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) and Republican Party of India (RPI) opposed it.
The Bombay High Court had directed the PMC in April to complete the slum rehabilitation scheme for the Hirabaug colony here by December 31, 2017. The lawyer representing the PMC had informed the court that the land on which the scheme was proposed belonged to the civic body and it was willing to implement the rehabilitation scheme.
The bench of Chief Justice Mohit Shah and Justice G S Kulkarni had dismissed the writ petition filed by the Akhil Hirabaug Sahakari Grihanirman Sanstha, a cooperative society of slum-dwellers, who had proposed to implement the scheme on the PMC land through a private developer, and a PIL on the same issue.
The bench had ruled that both the petitions were devoid of any merit and held that the special regulations (SRs) in relation to the Slum Rehabilitation Authority for Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad did not prohibit the municipal corporation or any other public body, which owns a land on which slums are situated, from undertaking the rehabilitation project.
It further held that when a slum rehabilitation scheme was undertaken by a public body, which owns a land, it does not require obtaining consent of 70% or more eligible hutment dwellers. The bench had observed that the slum-dwellers cannot insist for rehabilitation through a private developer when the corporation, which owns the land, was willing to implement the scheme.
The matter later went to the Supreme Court. “The matter is pending in the apex court. Till the decision of that court comes, we should have followed the directives of the high court. But a group of elected members did not do so. They ignored the directives of the high court, which had suggested that the civic body could work as a developer and rehabilitate the slum-dwellers,” said Sidhartha Dhende, the leader of the Republican Party of India in PMC.
Hirabaug slum, which houses around 233 residents, was announced as a slum enclave by PMC in 1984. The area to be rebuilt under this scheme is around 3186.39sqm.
Shankar Kemse, the leader of the House in PMC, supported the move of giving the project to a private player, saying that the decision was taken after consultation with the civic administration.