The city’s slum-dwellers seem to have been deprived of their rightful benefits by the ruling civic board over the past 25 years or so. More than 80 per cent of the funds allotted for the development of slums has been diverted for the progress of colony areas instead, alleged mayor Subrata Mukherjee, who has resolved to put an end to this “dishonest practice”.
Though a total sum of about Rs 7,000 crore was allotted by the Calcutta Municipal Corporation (CMC) and other agencies for slum development, not more than Rs 1,400 crore have actually been channelled to improve the lot of over two million people living in the 5,500 slums dotting the city.
“This is the main reason why the city has failed to get rid of slums despite a collective investment of about Rs 7,000 crore for their development over the past 30 years,” complained mayor Mukherjee.
The Trinamul-BJP combine in the CMC has now decided to stop this “dishonest practice” of diverting funds ear-marked for slum development for the improvement of colony areas instead.
Mukherjee has directed mayor-in-council member (slum development) Javed Ahmed Khan to end this “ unholy exercise” at a recent meeting with five of his council members. The mayor has assured them of full co-operation in implementing their development schemes.
According to Javed Khan, slum land is controlled by Thika Tenancy Act, 1981, and the dwellers pay rent to the state government. The colonies, on the other hand, mushroomed only after refugees started trickling in from East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) after the Partition.
The state government later granted the settlers individual ownership rights over the land through distribution of “pattas”. There are about 50,000 colony plots, each measuring up to three-kottahs, in the city, while the total number of settlers is estimated at around five lakh.