Citizens' Issues
Mumbai slumdwellers, high-rise residents protest new civic rules

The civic corporation's new proposal has kicked up a raging controversy among all sections, political parties and the general public as it has created confusion and uncertainties in the minds of the masses, said Maharashtra Societies Welfare Association (MSWA) spokesperson Sunil Sharma

 

Slumdwellers and residents of skyscrapers protested against the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation's proposed new development plan (DP) and development control rules (DCR) at Azad Maidan here on Monday.
 
The civic corporation's new proposal has kicked up a raging controversy among all sections, political parties and the general public as it has created confusion and uncertainties in the minds of the masses, said Maharashtra Societies Welfare Association (MSWA) spokesperson Sunil Sharma.
 
"A lot of anxious people have been inquiring with us about the ramifications of the proposed DP and DCR, seeking clarifications and wanting to know how they would be affected," Sharma said at the protest meeting.
 
An awareness programme has also been launched to inform people about the BMC proposal, said Ramesh Prabhu, chairman of the Affordable Housing Welfare Organisations of India (AHWOI), which jointly carried out the protest with MSWA.
 
The programme would inform people on the impact of the BMC proposal on the people of the city at various places, the issues affecting slum rehabilitation, regularisation of transfer documents, tenanted premises and cluster development, cessed buildings, MHADA (Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority) buildings, fungible floor space index (FSI), he said.
 
"Under the proposed DP and DCR till 2034, there are many discrepancies and restrictions on use of FSI which would render slum rehabilitation as unviable, besides reduction of other facilities that were given earlier, charging huge premium which would make housing unaffordable," Prabhu pointed out.
 
The protesters have demanded scrapping of the proposed DP and DCR by the BMC, which has also been severely criticised by all political parties in the state.

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Speculative housing, second homes squeezing affordable housing in Goa
Rapid concretisation of Goa, otherwise known for its tourism prowess and natural beauty, has been a subject of concern for planners and housing experts
 
Affordable, need-based housing is fast shrinking in Goa even as the state is being positioned as a luxury destination for the rich and an "ideal" market for investment-oriented second homes.
 
Top architects in the state claim that excessive speculative housing, which effectively means future housing prices driving a current demand for housing, and the trend of second homes need to be curbed by a comprehensive housing policy.
 
Speaking to IANS on the sidelines of an international architecture forum in the state capital, former chairman of Indian Institute of Architects (Goa) Tulio de Souza said that the total shortfall of need-based housing was as much as 18 per cent.
 
"On a general level there is about 18 percent shortfall of need-based housing requirement in the state... A lot of housing stock that is being created in Goa is either as second homes to citizens and people from all over the country and the other is the speculative housing," said de Souza, who was a member of a state government committee some years back, which was formed to draft an official housing policy.
 
Rapid concretisation of Goa, otherwise known for its tourism prowess and natural beauty, has been a subject of concern for planners and housing experts.
 
Over the last few years, a steady stream of luxury housing projects, niche gated residencies and mega housing complexes have emerged across the Goan countryside, even as most of the units in their upmarket tenements are vacant most of the year.
 
A 2011 official census revealed that a quarter of the 500,000-odd registered homes in Goa are vacant and this trend is disturbing as far as creating the space for need-based housing is concerned, de Souza said.
 
"We, as planners, definitely discourage speculative nature of housing, which is sometimes sought to be projected and results in the entire path of development being skewed," de Souza told IANS.
 
"Need-based housing has suffered and as such need-based housing needs to be catered to on a war footing by the government by getting the housing policy drafted immediately," he added.
 
In 2011, the Congress-led coalition government had proposed levying a heavy occupancy tax on second homes in an attempt to put curbs on speculative housing.
 
"Buying a home in Goa for Goans is getting increasingly difficult because a lot of rich people from outside are buying 'holiday' homes here. The prices are getting out of hand for the local population. Some outsiders buy homes only for their New Year celebrations. This proposed occupancy tax, we hope, will have a deterrent effect," Rahul Deshpande, also an architect and a member of the state level committee on land use, had said.
 
While the proposals eventually did not get implemented, the anxiety over rising real estate prices, which make owning a home a difficult proposition for the 'Average Goan Joe', was even reflected in Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar's first budget speech delivered in the state legislative assembly last month.
 
"Emphasising our focus in the area of affordable housing, I further propose to formulate a scheme to construct affordable houses for the middle and low income groups on government land identified for this purpose and take up two such housing schemes to begin with next year," Parsekar said.
 
De Souza however claims that there is still time to wake up and resolve the housing issue before the real estate market realities get too harsh.
 
"We may not be in a crisis situation immediately, but definitely there are signals that the planners have to be ready to meet the challenges of the emerging situation," he said.
 
According to Amit Sukhtankar, chairman of the IIA, current migratory trends are keeping Goa's housing demand steady for now but the future is anybody's guess.
 
"Real time growth of population along with macro economics, like the kind of industry which the Goa government aims to attract, will define how many houses will be needed in future," Sukhtankar told IANS.

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Court considers chargesheet against 13 in documents leak case
A court on Monday took cognizance of the chargesheet filed against 13 accused in the case relating to the leak of documents from the petroleum ministry.
 
Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Sanjay Khanagwal accepted the charge sheet filed by Delhi Police in the case and directed police to supply documents related to it to accused.
 
The court posted the matter for further hearing for May 18. Police have formally charged 13 accused under various sections dealing with cheating, forgery, trespass, theft, common intent and criminal conspiracy.
 
According to sources, provisions of the stringent Official Secrets Act have not been invoked against the accused but further investigation is on.
 
Police have cited 42 prosecution witnesses in their 44-page charge sheet filed on Saturday.
 
Delhi Police also registered a first information report for the leak of classified documents related to various ministries, including of petroleum and natural gas, on February 17.
 
Five corporate executives are among the accused in the case. They are RIL corporate affairs manager Shailesh Saxena, Jubilant Energy senior executive Subash Chandra, Essar deputy general manager Vinay Kumar, Reliance ADAG deputy general manager Rishi Anand, and Cairns India general manager K.K. Naik. 
 
Former journalist Santanu Saikia, who now runs a web portal, and Prayas Jain, a Melbourne-based energy consultant were booked in the case.

 

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