SER apathy may derail PM’s housing for all plan- The New Indian Express

Express News Service

ROURKELA:  Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s commitment for housing for all seems to have hit a roadblock for the slum dwellers in the land of the South Eastern Railway (SER) for the apparent indifference of the SER in this regard.After the Rourkela Steel Plant (RSP) agreed to blend Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY) on its encroached land for slum rehabilitation as directed by Union Steel Minister Dharmendra Pradhan, pressure is mounting on the SER to adopt similar policy. But, the SER looks to care less.

Incidentally, territorial jurisdiction of the RSP and SER overlap with Rourkela Municipal Corporation (RMC) limits at many places hindering integrated development of the Smart City.  Former Chairman of the erstwhile Rourkela Municipality RC Bal said 50,000-60,000 poor people reside in numerous slums on SER land from Bondamunda to Panposh alongside the Howrah-Mumbai main line which runs through the City. Owing to SER’s indifference, the Area Based Development (ABD) plan and slum redevelopment scheme under the Smart City Mission is strictly restricted to RMC limits, he claimed. 

Well-placed administrative sources pointed out that the Sundargarh district administration in June 2018 had suggested the SER to provide 20 acre from its unused land for rehabilitation of about 800 slum dwellers facing eviction threat for the third railway line project. But, Chakradharpur Divisional office of SER dismissed it saying it was not in the policy of the Indian Railways. 

On the other hand, the PMAY-Urban guidelines speak otherwise. Sub-clause 10.1 of the norms mentions that the Central Government land owning agencies should undertake “in-situ” slum redevelopment on their land by using it as a resource for providing houses to slum dwellers. In case of relocation, land should either be provided by the agency or the agency may collaborate with the States/UTs for obtaining land from States/UT/City. Central Government agencies should not charge land costs for the land used for the purpose of housing the eligible slum dwellers. Similarly, Sub-clause 10.2 provides scope for Central Government agencies to undertake slum development in partnership with private developers. 

Rourkela MLA and Sundargarh District Planning Committee Chairman Sarada Prasad Nayak said in a welfare country, the SER is blatantly rejecting Central guidelines of social and human commitments. He said objective of planned growth under Smart City Mission cannot be achieved without rehabilitation of vast slum population on SER land.BJP MP and former Union Minister Jual Oram did not comment on the issue.

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