RIO DE JANEIRO – A new plan designed to rehabilitate 378 shantytowns in Brazil’s second-largest city with the goal of sprucing up Rio for the 2016 Summer Olympics was presented Tuesday by Mayor Eduardo Paes.
In the longer term, the project envisions renovating close to 600 shanty towns, known as favelas, over the next 10 years, he said in an interview with CBN radio.
The goal is to provide shantytown inhabitants with the same services and benefits enjoyed by residents of other districts in Rio de Janeiro, Paes said.
He also said that besides eliminating flimsy slum dwellings and building homes with permanent structures, the plan provides for paving streets, installing a secure energy grid and facilitating access to electricity and gas.
“We’re going to improve all the shantytowns, but the city administration will be increasingly harsh on any attempt to create new slums or expand those already in place,” the mayor said.
After the deadly mudslides caused by April’s torrential rains, the municipal government announced that it was moving slum-dwellers in high-risk areas to homes with public assistance, a decision ratified in the plan announced Tuesday.
Authorities aim to evacuate almost 13,000 families from 123 shantytowns by 2012, though what was actually achieved during the first half of 2012 put them behind schedule.
The new program also establishes the intervention in all slums of the UPP, a special security force for eradicating the drug gangs that dominate poor neighborhoods.
Up to now, the UPP has only been stationed in about 10 of Rio de Janeiro’s shantytowns, located on the city’s affluent south side.
The UPP acts in two stages: the first featuring a shock attack with agents combing a neighborhood and “emptying” it of drug traffickers; and a second phase, carried out over the long term, in which police are permanently patrolling the area.
The boundaries of each shantytown will also be determined, which according to the municipal government will help police take effective action and maintain security.
The new program will have 8 billion reais ($4.5 billion) in funding over the next 10 years. EFE