ROURKELA: Even as Rourkela has set a target to become slum-free in the next six months, affordable housing remains a distant dream for the city’s poor. Steps to de-notify 40 slums on government land have already been initiated by Rourkela Municipal Corporation (RMC). Sources said hundreds of acres of land belonging to Revenue and Forest departments, South Eastern Railway and Rourkela Steel Plant (RSP) have been encroached by around 27,0000 slum dwellers. The State and Central governments have, however, not yet prepared a comprehensive plan to rehabilitate the slum dwellers.
In September last year, Union Petroleum & Natural Gas Minister Dharmendra Pradhan had instructed RSP to explore ways to rehabilitate slum dwellers on its land under Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana-Urban. The RSP has earmarked around 70 acre land at Tarkera for the purpose but the proposal is in early stage. On the other hand, SER is reluctant to rehabilitate the city’s slum dwellers on its land.
An affordable housing project of Rourkela Development Authority (RDA) which envisages construction of 500 economically weaker section housing unit on 3.30 acre land at Chhend Colony is moving at a snail’s pace. The RMC has proposed RDA to construct 1,000 houses for slum dwellers on 10 acre land at Chhend Colony. However, all such plans including a proposal to rehabilitate slum dwellers on 36 acre land at Madhusudanpali have not progressed much.
Rourkela MLA and Sundargarh District Planning Committee chairman Sarada Prasad Nayak said housing for all is priority of the BJD government. He said support of the Central government is needed to rehabilitate slum dwellers on SER and RSP land.