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State to challenge High Court order on consent norms

Nov 27 2013, 01:06 IST
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SummaryThe court had argued that the consent norm was only helping slum lords and was in no way beneficial to individual slumdwellers.

Sandeep Ashar

The state government will challenge a High Court order that asked it to get rid of the norm of obtaining prior consent from residents for projects involving integrated development of slums into townships.

In its September 24 order, a division bench of Chief Justice Mohit Shah and Justice M S Sankelacha had asked the government to “make special provisions allowing the government to appoint a developer without such consent” for such projects. Existing redevelopment norms require the developer to obtain consent from 70 per cent slumdwellers before permission for construction is granted.

The state has decided to move Supreme Court in this regard. A senior government official said withdrawal of the consent norms would go against the spirit of the slum rehabilitation policy. It could also block land for a developer for long periods, he added.

A senior government official said the Slum Rehabilitation Authority (SRA) and the housing department were preparing grounds for challenging the court order.

The court had argued that the consent norm was only helping slum lords and was in no way beneficial to individual slumdwellers. “In the last 17 years, the SRA has allotted 1,524 slum redevelopment projects, but only 197 of these (less than 13 per cent) have been completed. It has been brought out that ascertaining eligibility and obtaining consent of slumdwellers is a herculean task. If a developer is required to ascertain the eligibility of slumdwellers for rehabilitation and obtain their consent for development, considerable time, energy and money is consumed in the process,” the court said.

The court’s observation were part of a 55-page judgement in a case pertaining to a project involving rehabilitation of about 7,000 slumdwellers and spread over 1.89 lakh sq m in Borla in Chembur.

The project, undertaken by Nilesh Modi-promoted Sterling Building Pvt Ltd, was given the go-ahead by former Chief Minister Ashok Chavan on November 11, 2010. After taking over the reins, CM Prithviraj Chavan revoked the permission.

The approval was given under the controversial section 3K (1) of the Maharashtra Slum Areas (Improvement, Clearance, and Redevelopment) Act, 1971, which grants discretionary powers to the government and SRA on matters including slum redevelopment schemes. The court had quashed the revocation order. The government will challenge the revocation, sources said.

sandeep.ashar@expressindia.com

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