India Plans Major Slum Rejuvenation Project

DELHI – The Indian government Ministry of Housing & Urban Affairs issued a press release on October 23 that could change the lives of four million Delhi residents for the better. The Union Cabinet has approved regulations to guide the process “for conferring/ recognizing ownership or mortgage transfer rights to residents of Unauthorized Colonies (UC) in Delhi.” Simply put, the regulations are intended to govern a significant rejuvenation project involving nearly 2,000 “informal settlements” or slum scattered over 68 square miles.

The regulations are to govern a significant rejuvenation project involving nearly 2,000 “informal settlements” or slum scattered over 68 square miles.

The project includes a population roughly equivalent to that of Montreal, but with all living in an area that is only about a tenth of the size of the Canadian city.

The proposed regulations must receive Parliamentary approval before they can be implemented. The Cabinet will introduce a new Bill in Parliament during its next session in November seeking that approval.

According to the press release,

“This landmark initiative will address major issues being faced by the residents of UCs like lack ownership/transfer rights, provision of basic infrastructure, and civic amenities.”

The Ministry of Housing & Urban Affairs decided to take up the matter after a similar initial proposal in 2008 authorized the Grand National Capital Territory of Delhi to coordinate and supervise the project but failed to make any acceptable progress. As a result, according to the Ministry, “the residents of these colonies are living in uninhabitable conditions.”

The colonies in question have become self-populated on both government and private properties. The residents live in temporary, makeshift housing. A majority of the people are unskilled laborers who have left their homes in rural villages in hopes of finding employment in the bustling urban environment.

After the rural migrants arrive, they often discover that jobs for unskilled laborers are insufficient to enable them to afford urban housing. Most of these “un-notified” slum areas lack the essential complement of infrastructure elements necessary to sustain a safe or healthy lifestyle.

Access to clean water, sanitary sewer systems, electricity, education, health care, and privacy are inadequate at best. Complicating matters, the people do not own the land upon which they reside. At the end of the day, they have what they had at the beginning of the day – nothing.

Once approved, the Cabinet’s Bill will authorize the right for people to register and become legal owners of the property. The “reverse-engineered city planning scheme” includes incentives and financial assistance for both the registration and the development of safe housing by the residents.

The key to the success of the Cabinet’s proposal is the granting of ownership and transfer rights. Once property rights are documented, the new property owners will be empowered to invest in transactions that were hitherto legally unavailable to them.

The press release affirms the Cabinet’s essential assumption that, by putting the new regulations into action, “the living conditions in these colonies will improve substantially.”


To read more news on Slum colonies on Missions Box, go here.


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