President calls for urgent steps to remove Mumbai slums


Mumbai : Expressing distress at the sprawling slums of Mumbai that house more than half the city’s 13 million population, President Pratibha Patil Tuesday called for urgent solutions and said the “scenario” must change.

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Inaugurating the second phase of the Mumbai metro railway here, the president said posh multi-storeyed buildings standing beside slums in various parts of the country’s commercial capital presented a “sad picture”.

“This is not a matter of pride for any of us and the scenario should be changed,” she said, speaking in Marathi.

The president said she had been informed that financial resources were not the only obstacles to slum improvement programmes. Other social, political and criminal aspects also played a part.

“I felt that on this vital issue, the centre, state and municipal governments, social organisations, corporate houses, engineers, builders, the media and the people themselves should get together to remove this blot on humanity.”

Calling upon various political parties to shed their differences and work to resolve the issue, the president said this would be akin to a “punya” (good deed) and give Mumbai a truly “human face”.

Appreciating the efforts through which 40,000 slum families had been rehabilitated, she said other requirements of increasing urbanisation, like water supply, cleanliness, health, education and power must also be provided to all.

Present on the occasion were Governor S.C. Jamir, Chief Minister Ashok Chavan and union Urban Development Minister S. Jaipal Reddy amongst others.

The 32-km Charkop-Bandra-Mankhurd (CBM) metro corridor with 27 stations en route is the second public-private partnership metro project and will provide a much-needed north-south and east-west link.

It is being constructed by a consortium led by Reliance Infrastructure, which is also building the 11 km Versova-Andheri-Ghatkopar corridor.

For the CBM corridor, the centre will provide viability gap funding (VGF) of Rs.1,532 crore, and the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) will provide the balance Rs.766 crore.

The total Mumbai Metro Rail network will cover 146.5 km.