Slum-free diamond city still a distant dream

By Himansshu Bhatt & Melvyn Thomas Himansshu Bhatt & Melvyn Thomas , TNN | Mar 30, 2012, 12.27PM IST

Source: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/surat/Slum-free-diamond-city-still-a-distant-dream/articleshow/12466779.cms

SURAT: The dream to make the diamond city slum-free will not happen anytime soon. Slum settlements have been a major cause for concern for urban planners of the city, which has the highest growth rate of over 13 per cent in the country.

Six lakh urban poor living in 1.15 lakh hutments in 406 slum settlements in the city need to be relocated by 2020 by Surat Municipal Corporation in the EWS houses constructed under Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JnNURM).

From a grant of Rs 699 crore to construct 46,872 houses for the urban poor in the city, as much as Rs 515 crore has already been spent to build 32,394 EWS houses.

In fact, 22,712 urban poor families (one lakh people) from over 35 slum settlements have so far been rehabilitated. SMC was in the process able to get 2.15 lakh square metres of land freed from encroachers.

This helped speed up a number of infrastructural development activities. BRTS phase-I, which was facing hurdles for the past few years, was now on a fast track and so is Tapi river front development project.

Jatin Desai, executive engineer incharge of slum rehabilitation project, told TOI “Although, relocation of urban poor from all the 406 registered slums in the city looks a distant dream, we are sure to shift at least 50,000 hutments within two years.

The city needs another Rs 700 crore to relocate the remaining urban poor from 2014 onwards. We can achieve our target of a ‘slum free city’ by 2020.”

Meanwhile, a survey carried in 2009-10 estimated that at least another 50,000 hutments have encroached upon private lands in the city.

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