Maharashtra Plans Special Fund For Stalled Slum Rehabilitation Projects
Dharavi area of Mumbai, India. (Photographer: Dhiraj Singh/Bloomberg)

Maharashtra Plans Special Fund For Stalled Slum Rehabilitation Projects

Maharashtra plans to set up a stress fund to complete slum rehabilitation projects stalled during the pandemic, which served as a reminder of the poor living conditions in Mumbai, the state's capital and India's financial hub.

The fund will help in completion of rehabilitation component under the Slum Rehabilitation Authority projects, Jitendra Awhad, state housing minister, said in a virtual press conference. “The money will be raised by Shivshahi Punarvasan Prakalp Ltd.—a Maharashtra government company set up to build affordable homes through slum rehabilitation projects—but the control and distribution will be with the banks."

The government will infuse Rs 700-1,000 crore and public sector lenders will also pitch in. According to the minister, 541 SRA projects are ready and 370 are stuck. Of 5.07 lakh planned homes, about 3.80 lakh are under-construction. But developers are facing a liquidity crunch as the pandemic disrupted all but essential economic activity.

Slums in Mumbai, home to about half of the city's population, emerged as hotstpots for the virus. And the civic authorities have for now controlled the virus in Dharavi, one of Asia's largest slums, living conditions makes it vulnerable to similar outbreaks.

“The state decision to push SRA development is also keeping in view the city’s readiness to tackle any future pandemics such as Covid-19," the minister said. "As we continue to battle the virus, Mumbai has witnessed an alarming ratio of Covid-19 cases across the slums and a proper housing environment will be the key to safeguard lives and prevent any community spread of such diseases going forward."

Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray approved the concept of the fund, Awhad said. "In a few days, the proposal will be submitted in the cabinet. This move will help the builders as well as residents of Mumbai, particularly the slum-dwellers.”

The minister said various premiums—fees that developers pay—for slum redevelopment projects have either been reduced or or deferred. Approvals timeline has been drastically reduced by the Slum Rehabilitation Authority.

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