20 Years of SRA: A Review of Slum Rehabilitation in Mumbai

The seminar was held on December 27, 2016 at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai. It was jointly organised by the School of Habitat Studies, TISS and the Committee for Right to Housing (CRH). A short summary of the seminar proceedings will be posted on the blog in the upcoming week. For more information on events organised by the Centre for Urban Policy and Governance visit our events page.

CONCEPT NOTE

Why now?

The Slum Rehabilitation Scheme (SRS) completes its 20th year in 2017, and over these two decades the scheme has had its share of success and failure. From time to time, the Slum Rehabilitation Authority (SRA) has drawn criticisms on various fronts like the provision of free housing, involvement of developers, and implementation processes that created opportunities for enormous corrupt practices. The successes however are few and one of the successes is in its in situ rehabilitation. Therefore it seemed an appropriate time to examine the scheme for its performance and influence on the housing sector at large, and its expanding role in the state and country ( the draft housing policy Maharashtra announced in 2015 has clearly indicated extension of SRA to other metros in the state and similar model of rehabilitation across the nation).

In the last 20 years, ever since SRS’s establishment in 1997, its success rate has been less than 13 percent. As many as 1,524 projects were started out of which 1,100 are still being developed and only 197 projects have been completed. A mere 1.53 lakh families have been rehabilitated against the promise of 8 lakh units promised in the first 5 or 6 years.

SRA has been applauded and well received by financial intuitions for enabling finances for public housing from the market. Afzalpurkar Committee in 1995 proposed this scheme for marked improvement in health and hygiene conditions of slum dwellers. The report stated “if inequity has to be removed there have to be unequal laws” and according to them SRA was preferable to the slum dwellers. However SRA was conceived as a policy that adopted market mechanism to achieve slum rehabilitation. Over the years redevelopment of slums was interchangeably used to get rid of slums in the city via a “zero cost humanitarian approach” to slums instead of demolitions and evictions that were practiced earlier.  It was also used avoid restrictions on development and generating new spaces to be sold in open market.  The scheme completely ignored the fact that slums are dynamic in nature and respond to changing circumstances. Slum housing has grown considerably due to the dearth of availability of low cost housing and, its accommodating nature where the incoming and growing population is been contained by manufacturing new spaces.

Our experiences from field shows that the cutoff date of 1st December 1995 excludes as many as 30-40 % of the slum households. While the scheme also disregards presence of any structure above ground floor, the reality is that most slums have at least Ground plus one (G + 1) structures. There is also a substantial presence of rental tenements in the slums.

Empirical work shows that slum settlements are, occupationally, mixed in use. The people engage in occupations from varied sectors, ranging from primary, secondary, service to formal and informal sector. Thus the subsistence economies in which most of the slum dwelling populations operate are destroyed by the above described redevelopment model. Slum rehabilitation in its present form disregards the presence of mixed uses of tenement both as living and livelihood space.

Over the years all slum development programs have been phased out but for SRA. It has created an environment that prefers SRA over any other slum development or rehabilitation program. It has distorted the housing market altogether and started questioning the informality and demanding it to be replaced by formal ownership housing. Its impact on the larger housing sector has been significant where housing creation and regulation has become market driven and not need based. It has created an atmosphere where the entire city is looking more inequitable and segregated in rich – low density –low Floor Space Index (FSI) and poor- high density high FSI city. More importantly, SRA has also opened opportunities for meandering around building codes and norm by paying premiums to planning authorities. Additionally, it has also impacted other redevelopment scheme like the MUTP and MUIP for Mumbai, CESS and dilapidated building redevelopment, MAHDA colony redevelopment in Mumbai and the other national scheme of BUSP. The tools of FSI and TDR have been introduced to create public housing, and market has now a pivotal role in creating housing stock for the city.

Objectives of the seminar

  1. To understand the trajectory of SRA over the last two decades.
  2. What are the different ways in which SRA has been implemented across MMR and in the state?
  3. What are the different problems post rehabilitation and how are people coping with it?
  4. Is there an alternative to SRA. How do we engage with these alternatives?

Flow of sessions 

The first session took stock of the SRA scheme, to understand its contextual evolution over the last 20 years, how it has been influenced by the realities in the city and region, and also how SRA has influenced different facets of housing. Why has there been no move towards coming out of the free housing scheme?

In the second session, we attempted to understand how different stakeholders have operationalised SRA to gain maximum benefits in the given framework. Starting from establishing eligibility, grievance to handing over the tenements has been tweaked to suit the needs of interest groups better.  

The third session raise pertinent questions about the history and trajectory of SRA and its overall impact on the housing sector. We also tried to look at how the positioning of SRA in different institutions has had an overall impact on its delivery. The exploration was done through a comparative understanding of how SRA has delivered and functioned in cities where it has been stationed with different institutions in relation to Mumbai where it has an independent status.

In the last session we posed questions on the future of SRA, and tried to understand the kind of problems rehabilitation societies face, what they do, whom they address these problems to and many more. The learnings from the seminar shall be used to explore alternatives to SRA and advocacy around it.

Sessions

Introduction

Session 1: SRA in retrospect — to understand and know what is happening in SRA

Presenters: P K Das, Nivara Hakk Suraksha Samiti and Architect &Urban Planner  

Chandrashekhar Prabhu, Ex MMRDA Chief

Discussant: Dr. Amita Bhide, Dean, School of Habitat Studies

Session 2: Working with SRA

Presenters: Mr. Sharad Mahajan, Mashal

Mr. Chandrashekhar, Architect  

Anil Darshetkar, Ex MHADA Chief

Manohar Rajguru, SRS

Sagarika, Architect

Raj Avasthi, Legal Activist

Discussant: Hussein Indorewalla, KRVIA

Session 3: SRA in other cities

Presenter: Madhura Lokhare, Researcher, SRA Pune

Discussant:Simpreet Singh

Session 4: Emerging practices, alternatives and possibilities

Presenters: Nitin Kubul, Activists

Manohar Rajguru, SRS

Co-operative housing societies

Discussant: Sitaram Shelar, Pani Hakk Samiti and Shweta Wagh, KRVIA

Summarization: Dr. Sandeep Pendse 

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