New Delhi: A week after the East Delhi building collapse, Delhi Government on Monday constituted a high-powered committee to frame a broad policy for providing shelter to vulnerable sections and facilitate swift allotment of around 9,000 low-cost houses to them.
A Cabinet meeting, presided by Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit, deliberated at length on the building collapse incident in east Delhi that had claimed 70 lives and decided
to frame a comprehensive housing policy for the homeless and those living in slum clusters.
A three-member committee comprising Finance Minister AK Walia, PWD Minister Raj Kumar Chauhan and Social Welfare Minister Mangat Ram Singhal has been tasked to frame the policy based on the broad contours of the framework already prepared by chief secretary Rakesh Mehta.
"The chief secretary has already prepared a policy paper. The committee comprising the PWD, Urban Development and Social Welfare Ministers will finalise it," Dikshit said.
The Committee has also been asked to frame guidelines for distribution of around 8,000 low-cost houses, built by DSIIDC in Narela, Dwarka, Bhorgarh and Bawana, to the
vulnerable section at the earliest.
Singhal said another 7,000, being constructed by Urban Development department will be made available for distribution within next six months.
He said Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board (DUSIB) had constructed a total of 1,024 low-cost dwelling units in Dwarka and Dikshit had also directed to take steps for their distribution.
The building collapse at Laxmi Nagar on last Monday night brought to the fore the struggle of the poor for a roof as over 60 families, mostly labourers from West Bengal and Bihar, were living in the cramped quarters of the 15-year-old building.
"In total we will have around 15,000 flats in our disposal for distribution among the slum dwellers," he said.
Officials said the ministerial committee has been told to frame the housing policy keeping in mind recent direction of Union Urban Development Ministry for distribution of the low cost houses.
As per existing Delhi Government rules, a slum dweller is eligible for government accommodation if he or she stayed in the city for five years.
In its direction, the ministry had asked the Delhi government not to stick to its earlier cut off year of 2002 for getting low cost houses in the city as only 20 percent of the slum dwellers will get allocation if the criteria is not revised.
"We will discuss all the aspects and come out with a comprehensive policy," said Singhal.
Mehta, who is examining the issue, said currently there are 86 slum clusters in the city where a total of 17,000 to 18,000 families are living.
"The Centre has told us that they will bore the cost of the housing project only if a whole cluster is removed. But there are complex issues involved in providing accommodation
to all the families," he said.
Citing an example, he said in the slum clusters too there are families who are living in rented accommodation. "So how do we give the flats. Whom to give. To the original
owner or to those who are staying in his house."
Asked what should be the cut off year for ensuring government accommodation for majority of homeless and slum dwellers, Mehta refused to give a direct reply but said
government will find a way out.
Government`s premier infrastructure development agency Delhi State Industrial And Infrastructure Development Corporation (DSIIDC) had built nearly 8,000 low-cost flats
under Rajiv Ratan Awas Yojna.
The government had appointed a one-member judicial commission to probe the building collapse incident.