GIS - 23 September, 2015: The Vice-Prime Minister, Minister of Housing and Lands, Mr Showkutally Soodhun, detailed, at the sitting of the National Assembly yesterday, the structured approach adopted by his Ministry to deal with the problem of residential squatting on State Land.
Recalling that as at July 2015, there were 1,054 cases of squatting on State Land throughout the island, the Vice-Prime Minister reiterated Government’s commitment to address very rigorously the issue in a meaningful way. “For the purpose, a plan has been developed so that the approach is very humane while taking into consideration the socio-economic implications, on a strictly merit basis, while a cut-off date of 01 July 2015 has been adopted so that the situation can be controlled,” stressed Mr Soodhun.
According to the Vice-Prime Minister, the plan that has been developed provides for 422 cases to be considered for regularisation in situ, subject to the families concerned being found eligible. Hence, survey works have already started on site and the squatters have been requested to fill in a form giving their particulars. Mr Soodhun added that in the same breath, a social inquiry is being carried out by the Ministry of Social Security, National Solidarity and Reform Institutions to establish the profile of these households.
“Some 472 other families will be relocated,” stated the Vice Prime Minister, “as the sites squatted upon are either not suitable for residential purpose or are required for Government projects namely Phases 2 and 3 of the Ring Road Project.” Regarding the remaining 160 cases, Mr Soodhun said that investigation is being carried out by the Ministry to determine the suitability of the sites in terms of accommodating residential units, and if otherwise, relocation would be envisaged. The Vice-Prime Minister underlined that people who are drawing high incomes or who are owners of any immovable property would not be eligible for the grant of a building site lease, and necessary legal action would be taken to have them evicted from the site squatted upon.
Mr Soodhun also informed the house of measures being implemented to ensure that residential squatting on State Land does not become a ‘never-ending problem’, affirming that the provisions of the law will be rigorously applied. Hence, teams comprising officers of the Ministry of Housing and Lands, the Police des Terres, and the regular Police Force have been mobilised to deal with any new reported case of squatting. The teams will cover not only the sites where presently there is squatting but also other areas which are considered to be ‘squatting prone’.
“I am confident that with the structured approach which is being adopted, the problem of squatting State Land will be effectively dealt with, and the cooperation of all stakeholders is essential for that matter, as squatting is a problem which goes well beyond party politics and other such considerations,” pointed out Mr Soodhun.
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