MUMBAI, (GNI): Thousands of housing of poor in Mumbai are under threat of eviction as much hyped feature-Affordable housing-of DP 2034 grab headlines. One of the main four features of new Development of Plan of Mumbai prepared by MCGM is housing. The Government intends to create affordable housing stock to address the problem of housing paucity for the poor in the city. However the definition of affordability is merely based on 2 parameters –size and cost. Whereas, affordability in real sense of the term needs to be defined in terms of cost, tenement size, livability, sustainability and adequacy.
Construction or redevelopment of new buildings is not the only means by which affordable housing can be attained. Rather up-gradation and retrofitting of slums are also a means of achieving affordable housing. It is very important to emphasize on these two means to achieve as both will ensure that the share of land for the poor in the city does not further shrink. This is of utmost importance when approximately 42% of the population lives in slums.
The houses currently available (both by MHADA and private sector) under the affordable housing segment out-prices not just the LIG and EWS but the MIG category too. The prevalent minimum price for housing under the affordable housing segment is such that it exclude a huge chunk of the population to take benefits of this feature of DP 2034. These exclusionary practices make the poorest of poor citizen of the city perpetually vulnerable to demolition of their self-built housing/hutments. For instance, a huge settlement of poor comprising of 600 household in Cheeta Camp near Trombay is scheduled to be demolished in the first week of May this year. All the residents of this settlement possess ration card which record their annual income less than Rs. 1 lakh. None of the housing in the present affordable housing segment is available either in Mumbai or MMR can be availed by persons belonging to this income category. In the foreseeable future therefore we see homelessness on the rise due to anticipated demolitions.
Our experience of past is that affordable housing is not the only solution to address the problem of housing. Housing built under affordable housing scheme, most of the time end up serving merely as an asset and not the housing solution. Housing cannot be looked in complete isolation, it is very much linked with livelihood. Given high value of in the city most of the affordable housing has been constructed in the fringes of MMR region which adds to the drudgery of travelling work place and daily affair adding increased health spending and high stress levels
Apart from this there is not much clarity on the accompanying infrastructure which is necessary to absorb the pressure due to increased FSI. The maximum FSI of 5 granted for commercial purposes and 4 for residential purposes will create huge burden on the already congested city. Increasing FSI for redevelopment of BDD chawls will again start re-congesting the island city. With no proper arrangements for infrastructures like parking, water facilities etc the quality of life is bound to deteriorate.
In the garb of creating affordable housing stock, Non Development Zones and salt pans are being converted to Special Development Zone to allow entry of real estate led exploitation of these eco-sensitive areas. While on the other hand, in the absence of a practical plan, the space for the poorest of the poor in the city still remain a question amidst claims for sabka sath sabka vikas. Ends