Biometric IDs for Mumbai slum dwellers


Mumbai : Maharashtra has decided to introduce a biometric ID system for slum dwellers to protect them from unscrupulous land sharks.

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The identification system is meant for those under the state-sponsored slum redevelopment project in the megalopolis. It was mooted after the government received several complaints alleging that slum dwellers were being intimidated or lured into signing out their property by real estate developers to start construction on their plots.

"The move to bring in the biometric identification system comes in the wake of several cases filed by the slum dwellers who have complained that their plots were being developed without their consent," said Swadhin Kshatriya, the state housing department principal secretary.

Kshatriya said under the biometric identification system, a unique number for each beneficiary would be created using the image of his or her eyeballs and thumb impression.

"Initially, the identification process would be introduced in schemes approved by the state Slum Redevelopment Authority (SRA). It will help us reduce the number of complaints to a great extent," Kshatriya told IANS.

To ascertain the veracity of slum dwellers' claims for accommodation under the SRA scheme, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has also started digitising city maps, he said.

According to government records, Mumbai has over 4.5 million slum dwellers.

"In future, the identification process will also be introduced for the Dharavi Redevelopment Scheme and also for the redevelopment of the BDD chawls spread across south-central Mumbai."

Incidentally, the Mumbai civic authorities last week floated global tenders inviting bids that pegged the project cost at around $2.3 billion from around the world to tear down Dharavi, said to be Asia's biggest slum, and replace it with swanky new apartments for its thousands of poor residents.

Kshatriya said the Dharavi redevelopment would replace 57,000 ramshackle slum structures with new houses.

"Under the makeover plan, we construct more that half a dozen multi-storied buildings to house eligible slum dwellers and the rest of the area will be developed for commercial activity," Kshatriya said.

Considered a real estate eyesore, Dharavi stands on a 2 sq km patch of land -estimated to be worth over $10 billion – and houses about 600,000 people in ramshackle, tarp-strewn roofed buildings.

Dharavi was once a quite fishing village before migrants, mostly from southern India, swelled its population and started hundreds of small businesses that make everything from leather goods to electrical equipment, junk jewellery and counterfeits,