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Report No. 138

8.4. Some of the factors which operate on their minds can be visualised:-

(1) While building material costs and labour costs have risen by several hundred per cents., the rents have been pegged at pre-inflation levels. It is, therefore, economically a losing proposition to spend funds on maintaining or improving such properties.

(2) If the tenants get exasperated and vacate, the landlord would be enabled to pull down the structures and sell the land at handsome prices fetched on account of the dizzy heights attained by land prices.

(3) Some owners may not have financial resources to develop the properties even if they were desirous of doing so.

8.5. Be that as it may the fact remains that such structures or chawls pose danger to the occupants/tenants inasmuch as these are liable to collapse and result in loss of life or are rendered unfit for habitation on account of falling in disrepair and/or prevailing insanitary conditions giving rise to diseases and epidemics. It is substantially to overcome such a situation that most of the legislations are enacted, as will be disclosed by a synopsis of such legislations, (see Appendix to the report).

8.6. So far, so good. But the legislations do not aim at rehabilitation of citizens living in slums which have mushroomed around cities and towns. Such slums have cropped up mostly on public lands belonging to municipal authorities or on open unbuilt lands which have been encroached upon by the very poor sections of the citizens who are roofless and shelterless.

8.7. The community cannot afford to be unconcerned, insensitive or indifferent to the problem of such citizens without qualms of conscience, particularly as the Directive Principles of State Policy enshrined in Articles 38, 39, 41 and 43 of the Constitution of India enjoin the community to endeavour to rescue them from their plight.

8.8. It is, therefore, necessary to enact a legislation which will provide them succour by protecting them from being obliged to treat the open skies as roofs over their heads or their huts being razed to the ground by civic authorities without providing them or at least without making the maximum effort to provide them with alternative facilities in place of the huts or footpaths from which they are evicted.

8.9. It is such legislation for rehabilitation of the roofless that slum clearance legislation having a positive perspective and positive thrust must aim at instead of being contented by legislation protecting them from the privately-owned slums. And that is the thrust of the legislation proposed to be recommended by the present report.

Legislative Protection for Slum and Pavement Dwellers Back

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