For millions of slum dweller in Delhi, there is finally some reassuring news in the form of amendments brought in by the Delhi Government in its slum policy.

As per a notification issued on February 25, this year, lakhs of slum dwellers would be benefited by the liberalised norms on their identification and entitlement for rehabilitation.

Stating that it was the pressure mounted by the slum dwellers themselves which made the Delhi Government change several conditions for eligibility for rehabilitation, Ramendra Kumar, secretary general of Delhi Shramik Sangathan, said the major amendments include the change in the eligibility condition.

“Now the slums which are situated near footpaths, safety zone of railway, right of way and community areas and were earlier not eligible for rehabilitation have been provided the benefit of rehabilitation.’’ Moreover, he said, “the cut-off date for slum rehabilitation has been extended from March 31, 2007 to June 4, 2009’’, thereby bringing a large number of additional families under the purview of the amended policy.

With respect to documents required by the slum dwellers to prove their entitlement, he said the name of the slum dwellers should be in electoral list on or before June 4, 2009 and in the year of survey.

“The basis of income of slum dwellers as eligibility criteria for rehabilitation got removed from the policy. With respect to ownership right; the flat to the eligible slum dweller will be allotted initially on lease hold basis for 15 years and converted to free hold thereafter,’’ he added.

The Delhi Government has also shown its intention to withdraw its petition against the High Court order for rehabilitation of evicted families of New Sanjay Camp, Okhla through a writ petition. “This amendment will have impact on a number of cases pending in the High Court for rehabilitation of slum dwellers,’’ he said.

Pointing out that the benefits of amended guidelines will also apply to those eight slums which were demolished as per previous modified policy of February 19, 2010, Mr. Kumar said the ongoing eviction was supported by the modified slum policy which was notified in February 2010 and had a number of conditions under its eligibility criteria for rehabilitation of slum dwellers.

“Most of the slum dwellers were unable to fulfil those conditions despite living in slums since last 20 years. As per the previous policy and guidelines, around 80 to 85 per cent slum dwellers were not eligible for rehabilitation,’’ he said.

As such slum dwellers were mobilised and representations were made to the Delhi Chief Minister and the concerned departments in the Delhi and the Central Government seeking amendments in the slum policy.

But despite the recent amendments, a number of concerns still remain. For one, the amended policy is still silent on the issue of in-situ rehabilitation and actual cost of the flat under Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission.

“The amended policy also does not speak about the cost of the flats. It only says the cost of the land owning agency is about Rs. 1,50,000. The cost of the flat will be shared equally by the beneficiary and the state Government after deducting the share of the Central Government.’’

Further, noting that “income certificate issued by the Sub Divisional Magistrate was one of the criteria for eligibility conditions,’’ the Delhi Shramik Sangathan said: “It was not possible to get income certificate from the SDM office for old age persons, widow, destitute etc. Removing this condition will help hundreds of old age persons, widows living in slums since decades.’’

While the cut-off date has been extended, he said: “In principle, there should be no cut-off date for rehabilitation of poor workers. It should be the responsibility of the Government to provide housing facilities for all its citizen whether it’s rich, middle class or poor workers.’’ 

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