A house for Aam Admi?


In a city where the average cost of a roof over one's head is an eye-popping Rs 2.8 crore, the fillip to redevelopment through the new urban renewal scheme, which extends the cluster redevelopment policy to the suburbs, will definitely mean more housing stock. However, for a city that has long defied the simple economics of abundant supply acting as a check on price rise, the policy may not necessarily translate into creation of affordable housing.

The new cluster policy allows developers to reconstruct a cluster of buildings over a plot area of 4,000 square metres in the island city and 10,000 sqm in the suburbs. Developers can make their profit by constructing an area which can go as high as 100 per cent of the area used to rehabilitate the existing tenants or flat owners.

With developers looking at creating exclusive islands of premium residential towers in place of old tenanted low-rises, the sprawling apartments that are part of the sale component range anywhere from three-bedroom flats to duplexes and penthouses. While the Maharashtra Housing and Area development Authority (MHADA) does get a part of the surplus area left over after tenants are rehabilitated and the developers get their incentive share, it doesn't account for much. The new policy shrinks the potential affordable housing stock further by stating that instead of using MHADA's share of apartments as general public housing, priority should be given to using it for rehabilitation of those affected by infrastructure projects of BMC, MMRDA or the housing board itself.

Urban planners suggest that the only way to ensure a good supply of affordable housing is to increase MHADA's share in the redevelopment bounty or limit the unit size of a specific percentage of the sale component. Vidyadhar Phatak, former chief planner for the MMRDA, points out that Urban Land Ceiling Act (ULCA) also had a similar clause that required developers to create smaller size units in their sale component if they did not want to hand over land to the government for the sake of public housing. However, it was the most abused clause that finally led to the scrapping of the Act itself.

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