In 2016, before the municipal polls the Maharashtra state government was all set to regularize lakhs of illegal transfer of flats constructed under the slum rehabilitation scheme. Maharashtra state law and judiciary department has strictly defied state housing minister Prakash Mehta's pursuit to adjust law to even up the unauthorized occupancies of SRA buildings. During the last financial year the minister had put his effort to prorogue the removal of the illegal tenants in SRA buildings until the realization of a survey, by giving an assurance in the assembly. The proposition was strongly opposed by the both officials of law and judiciary depart in subject to violation of the court rules.
In November 2016, Mehta had suggested issuing an order and reform the regulation in favour of those illegal dwellers, on the ground of a large number of people is affected and government should issue an ordinance allowing for standardization of the occupancy, after charging penalty. He had put the fact on table before the state cabinet. His letter also included that government should make a law so that no eviction can take place until the ordinance is issued.
In his written assurance to the cabinet Mr. Mehta informed, “No one will be left homeless and we will fine those who have transferred SRA flats within 10 years and regularise the same. We will also pass on information about the intention of the state government to the Bombay high court, on whose directions the SRA is carrying out the survey and issuing notice.”
As per the existing state rules, tenements allotted under the SRA scheme cannot be transferred for a period of 10 years of possession. After that period, the permission of the SRA is needed before the transfer. Maharashtra housing department proposed amending the Maharashtra slum areas (Improvement Clearance and Redevelopment) Act 1971, after Mehta came forward in the support of the slum dwellers. According to the Act only the CEO of SRA is allowed to permit allottees to sell or lease their dwelling facing the 10-year period. It also proposed that this amendment will be allowed with a reflective outcome.
Following the Maharashtra Slum Areas (Improvement, Clearance and Redevelopment) Act, 1971, already notice served against 12500 illegal tenants, on the ground of violation of Section 3E of the Maharashtra Slum Act and also the tenants had been asked to serve proper documents to justify their occupancy. After the hearing SRA didn’t find any merit in this case, thus it issued eviction order against those properties in particular. In a bid to protect this eviction, an official of the housing department stated, “We will take the case to the higher authority for regularizing the all such transfers in the city on humanitarian ground.”
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