Silver Spring Dharmendra Kumar, director of ACORN India’s office in Delhi, forwarding me a fascinating article about an announcement from the government that they are preparing to “force” cities and states to create “reservations” for the poor and disadvantaged in the cities, rather than allowing land to simply be auctioned off.
I’ve enclosed the whole article, because this is obviously not a settled matter and is bound to create huge controversy. On the other hand it would apply to both private developments (like inclusionary zoning does in North America) and public developments. It would transfer land and title to slum dwellers. It might even mean that the huge dislocations of the redevelopment plan in the city of Delhi for example where tens of thousands have been moved to the very outside rims and suburbs of this vast city.
This proposal which seems to be a centerpiece of the government’s plans for hundreds of millions of poor should be a huge fight, and may be one worth both our engagement and everyone’s close attention.
Govt to ‘reserve’ land for urban poor?
19 Jul 2009, 1238 hrs IST, Mahendra Kumar Singh, TNN
NEW DELHI: Anxious to meet the “ambitious” target of making India slum-free in five years, the UPA government is considering to bring a legislation to ensure “reservation” of land for housing lakhs of urban poor forced to live in slums.
What could lead to lakhs of slum dwellers getting decent shelter, the fresh move has come after the response of the state governments and local bodies was not very “enthusiastic” regarding the housing ministry’s directive to ensure “adequate reservation” of developed land for economically weaker sections (EWS) and low income groups (LIG) in housing projects both public and private sectors.
Since land falls in the states’ jurisdiction, a senior ministry official pointed out that the model legislation would force them to emulate the central law as it is going to be biggest pro-poor initiative. “The ministry is working on setting up of a legal framework that accords property rights to slum dwellers and the urban poor,” the official said. With the proposed legislation, the ministry aims to discourage state governments and local authorities from auctioning urban land and forcing them to legally give space to the urban poor.
“There is widespread realisation that availability of land in cities for economically weaker sections and low income groups is going to be biggest challenge before the ministry,” said an official.
With the government announcing the Rajiv Gandhi Awas Yojana (RGAY) for urban poor, housing minister Kumari Selja is also trying to sell her “concept of inclusive cities” by urging the chief ministers to amend local laws to ensure reservation of land for affordable housing and informal sector activities of the urban poor.
She had asked the state governments and city authorities to ensure that their master plans had adequate reservation both in land and the floor space index to house the poor.
The proposal, which faced resistance from the state governments, was also pushed as part of the mandatory reforms to avail central funds under the flagship Jawaharlal Nehru Urban Renewal Mission. To tackle the massive housing shortage pegged at 2.6 crore units, the ministry is also working on an urban land policy which was last formulated in 1968.
In the absence of such a policy, the master plans have led to exclusion of the poor from the city’s development process and virtually forced them to live in slums.
The ministry is well aware of the difficulties in meeting the targets, upgradation of 1,000 slums, construction of 10 lakh houses, a biometric survey of slums during the 11th Plan period, of the Rajiv Gandhi Awas Yojana. The scheme aims to provide central assistance of Rs 1.5 lakh for each family living in slums. The Centre can also bear 25% of the cost in developing infrastructure like roads, sewage.