MUMBAI: Political interference in slum rehabilitation cases will not let such projects move forward, the Bombay high court said on Thursday. In a rebuke, a division bench of Justices Satyaranjan Dharmadhikari and Burgess Colabawalla questioned the helplessness expressed by the CEO of the Slum Rehabilitation Authority (SRA) in a dispute related to the allotment of flats in a project in Dadar. The court told that SRA that it should not let builders and developers dictate terms.
“We do not countenance interference in the affairs of the SRA by the state government, through its departments or ministries, much less by the minister of housing, either at the cabinet or state level. We do not think that political interference in matters to be decided by executive will carry any rehabilitation package or scheme for rehabilitation of slum-dwellers further or forward,” the judges said, adding, “If it is not to be defeated or frustrated, no ministers and in-charge of any department, much less housing, should interfere with the working and functioning of the SRA.”
The court was hearing a matter concerning a new SRA residential tower, Ashirwad cooperative housing society, on Bhavani Shankar Road. Some original residents had objected to flats being allotted to a project-affected person from another slum scheme. SRA, which had supported the allotment, subsequently informed the HC that it decided to withdraw it. The court rapped the SRA’s flip-flop. “If an officer from the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) is chosen to head the SRA and is styled as chief executive officer, we do not see how he is expressing helplessness,” said the judges.
The court said it was unfortunate that a police force had to be deployed to control the residents. “We do not see how builders, developers or owners and members of the slum-dwellers’ societies can dictate to the SRA in such matters,” the HC remarked.
The SRA said in court that it would not allot flats in another project to the PAPs who had approached the HC. The court directed the SRA secretary to decide the issue after hearing all parties and told the officer to “ignore interference by the (state housing) ministry till date or hereafter”.
* The plot at Dadar housed 151 slum-dwellers, of whom the SRA held 122 families eligible for rehabilitation
* The case of the remaining 29 are pending before the authority
* The original residents objected, claiming that these could have been allotted only after the cases of the slum-dwellers who had tenements on the plot, had been decided
Credits ET Realty