City anchor: MHADA affordable housing stock gets 9-acre boost

The Mumbai housing board, which has been grappling with an alarming scarcity of land, recently got possession of about 9 acres of a vacant plot in Goregaon. This may well come as a ray of hope, albeit little, for the affordable housing project in the city, as the land can now be used for creating more residential stock.

The Mumbai Housing Area & Development Authority (MHADA) plans to utilise this land, located in front of HyperCITY in Goregaon, to build about 2,000 houses.

"We have started the process of floating a scheme to bring this land under development. We plan to build houses for the economically weaker sections, low-income and middle-income groups," a senior MHADA official said. This stock is expected to be ready for MHADA's annual lottery by 2014 or 2015, the official added.

The concept of affordable housing has been losing steam in Mumbai with MHADA's land bank rapidly shrinking. The housing board has a large tract of land within Mumbai, but about 1,500 hectares is occupied by its 105 housing colonies. Most of the remainder is encroached upon, leaving MHADA with just about 2 hectares available for development of public housing.

The 9-acre land in question has been a part of MHADA's land bank for many years. However, it was encroached upon. Earlier this month, the Mumbai suburban district collector's office cleared the encroachments.

"The occupants on this land arrived here after 1995, so there is no question of rehabilitating them. We had got this land cleared a couple of times earlier, but as it was left unprotected, it was encroached upon again. Now, MHADA has built a boundary around it," an official from the Mumbai suburban collector's office said. He added that there were 300 to 400 slumdwellers on the plot.

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