SRA not taking adequate steps to protect interest of slum dwellers: HC

The Bombay High Court on Tuesday pulled up the Slum Rehabilitation Authority (SRA) for not taking adequate steps to protect the interests of slum dwellers as provided under the scheme of the Maharashtra Slum Areas (Improvement, Clearance and Redevelopment) Act.

A division bench of Chief Justice D K Upadhayaya and Justice Arif Doctor noted that a circular has been issued by the SRA on August 1 imposing a condition on builders and developers to deposit two years’ advance transit rent even in ongoing projects.

But the circular was not being adhered to in letter and spirit, the bench said.

The court said no permission shall be granted to the developers until the conditions imposed in the circular are fulfilled.

The HC was hearing two public interest litigations (PILs) filed by advocate Vijendra Rai highlighting the issue of non-payment of transit rent by developers to slum dwellers. The PILs pointed out 17 projects of Omkar Realtors and Developers Pvt Ltd.

The bench had during an earlier hearing directed the SRA to file its affidavit on the issue.

On Tuesday, the bench noted that the SRA’s affidavit was vague and insufficient and directed that a better affidavit be filed.

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The court said under the Act, SRA has a mechanism to ensure that the interests of slum dwellers and others are protected, but adequate steps are not being taken.

“One of the major areas where the SRA needs to pay attention is non-payment of transit rent to the slum dwellers and disposal of complaints in this regard within some stipulated period of time. Such inaction on the part of the authorities of SRA cannot be approved of,” the court said.

The bench posted the matter for further hearing on November 1.

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