The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Delhi funds for cheap dwellings

The municipal affairs department and the CPM’s committee on urban development have drawn up a scheme to convert slums into low-cost housing establishments with the help of funds from the Ambedkar Awas Yojana.

If the proposal gets the final nod from the authorities, the CMDA is likely to be appointed the nodal agency to begin work with several crores of the Central fund lying unutilised. There are over 4,000 slums in the city, accounting for about 40 per cent of the population, CMDA sources said.

The scheme envisages three-storeyed buildings constructed by the CMDA on bustee lands to accommodate the existing slum-dwellers.

According to plans, about 60 per cent of the funds will be spent from the Yojana funds and the rest will be borne by the slum-dwellers. The estimated cost of each dwelling unit will be about Rs 1 lakh.

“If the proposal takes shape, it will be a boon to the city and the Calcutta Municipal Corporation (CMC),” said mayor Subrata Mukherjee, adding that the scheme would give “a much-needed facelift” to the city and save the CMC crores now being spent on maintenance of slums.

The city slums occupy about 4,000 bighas, with Judges’ Court Road, Gariahat Road, Ashutosh Mukherjee Road, Alipore, Bhowanipore, Sealdah, Kalighat, Narkeldanga, Cossipore, Maniktala, Hatibagan, Bagbazar, Sovabazar and Kidderpore adding up to a substantial chunk.

Almost all the city slums are on thika land and come under the purview of the Thika Tenancy Act of 1981. Under the Act, all kuchcha structures with lease periods extending beyond December 1981 were vested to the thika tenancy and rent was deposited to its controller.

A recent scramble to grab the thika lands has prompted the CPM leadership to devise a permanent solution to the slum problem.

The state government already allows pucca structures up to a height of 9.5 metres on thika land against a ‘no-objection certificate’ from the controller of tenancy. The controller has the discretion to allow higher structures, up to 13.5 metres.

Initially, two-storeyed structures were planned, which was then revised to three to accommodate more slum-dwellers in each building.

“Illegal constructions on bustee lands are now rampant in various city pockets, particularly in Rajabazar, Narkeldanga, East Calcutta, Kidderpore, Ekbalpore and Garden Reach. So, the scheme should be implemented immediately,” a CMC official asserted.

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