Thursday, November 22, 2012

Slums spurned by Modi govt now under Congress roof

Slum Clearance Board Merged With GHB In ’07
Himanshu Kaushik | TNN

Ahmedabad: The lines outside the Congress’s ‘Ghar Nu Ghar’ form distribution centres would perhaps not have been so long had the Narendra Modi government reached out to slum-dwellers with housing schemes. There is a valid reason behind nearly 30 lakh slum-dwelling women lapping up the Congress offer for cheap housing.
    The government even had an agency just to build homes for slum-dwellers — the Gujarat Slum Clearance Board (GSCB) — but it was merged into the already defunct Gujarat Housing Board (GHB) five years ago — to render it useless just like the GHB. ‘Ghar Nu Ghar’ has revived the aspiration for a pucca home with basic facilities among mainly slum-dwellers who form the backbone of the economy of towns and cities.
    The Modi government had issued the notification to merge the two boards in March 2007, months before the assembly elections that year.
    Started in 1973, GSCB built over 36,000 houses for the slum-dwellers till 2001, but ran up losses of Rs 112 crore as many beneficiaries refused to pay up. The government drastically cut the staff from 210 to just 46 in 2007. An official of the slum cell of GHB said, “Today, we are just reduced to a recovery agency to recover dues of Rs 35 crore.”
    In 2010, the state government came up with a slum clearance policy, where builders were allowed to use one part of the land for affordable housing for slum-dwellers and develop the rest commercially. Two years on, eight projects for Ahmedabad have been sent for approval, but none has got final approval.