Itís curtains on rental housing

The Maharashtra government has finally brought the curtains down on its much-hyped rental housing scheme for the Mumbai Metropolitan Region.

Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan has given a go-ahead to replace the scheme with an affordable housing model, where houses will be allotted on ownership basis to various categories of individuals.

With Chavan completing three years in office on November 11, the state government is planning to issue a notification in this regard on that day. Last week, Chavan had also cleared another long-pending policy decision making it mandatory for developers of layout plots above 4000 sq m in size to reserve 20 per cent built-up space for houses for the low-income group and economically weaker sections. Even this decision is likely to be made public around the same time. The Indian Express had reported on the layout plot decision on November 5.

The rental housing scheme initiated in 2007 to decongest Mumbai failed to take off in a big way. While the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) has so far okayed 39 construction projects under the scheme, almost all are situated in far-flung areas.

The decision to revise the scheme comes in light of recommendations made by a high-level government panel, which found the rental scheme unviable. Under the new model, participating developers or land owners will be eligible for a floor space index (FSI) of 3. FSI, which defines the extent of construction permissible on a plot, is the ratio of built-up area to the total plot area. An FSI of 4 was made available under the rental housing scheme. The high-level panel had found that a higher FSI was undesirable in several areas.

The housing stock, so generated, will be split between the government and the developer in the 1:3 ratio. The Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (MHADA) will have rights of 50% of tenements from the government's share. These will be allotted under the public lottery system.

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