New industrial policy unlikely to increase housing stock

The new industrial policy unveiled by the state government earmarking 40 per cent of land for special economic zones (SEZs) might not see substantial land being used for housing purposes in Pune district. While officers from the Maharshtra Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC) admit that majority of the notified SEZs in Pune district will not have excess land to implement the schemes, realtors point out lack of basic civic infrastructure as one of the major hindrances in setting up affordable houses in SEZs.

The new industrial policy, which was approved by the state cabinet amongst other things, has set aside 40 per cent land for real estate development in SEZs. The policy states this would help in setting up special townships centered on major industrial zones and also help in de-congestion of cities. The policy, modalities of which are yet to be chalked out, has been welcomed by realtors across the state, especially in Mumbai and Nashik, where it would have unlocked large parcels of land in the SEZs.

As per the data on the website of the Special Economic Zones of India (Ministry of Industries and Commerce), Pune district has 15 SEZs on more than 1,400 hectares of land. Majority of these are in Haveli and Mulshi talukas of the district.

Ajit Relkar, regional officer (RO) of MIDC, Pune, said majority of SEZs in Pune are of relatively small land holdings with land ranging from 10- 30 hectares. "Bharat Forge's SEZ by far is the biggest SEZ in Pune spread over 1,000 hectares of notified land in Khed taluka," he said.

Relkar said the majority of construction and other work is complete in the SEZs. "The earmarking of 40 per cent of land for real estate would mean exiting from the SEZ and the question of compensation would arise," he said.

He said only in case of multi-product SEZs that are spread over 100 hectares question of excess land would arise and in Pune district there are majority of single product SEZs. Thus, not much excess land will be there to be unlocked.

Meanwhile, while giving a cautious welcome to the move, the realtors of Pune were quick to point out how basic civic infrastructure will be a deciding factor for the growth of any big real estate project.

Atul Goel of Goel Ganga group said the housing sector of Pune will take at least two years to materialise. "Civic infrastructure like roads, drainage and other issues will play a key role in deciding whether special townships or other big real-estate projects will come up in the SEZs," he said.

Sanjay Deshpande of Sanjeevani Builder said, "The motive behind the policy is to ensure cluster development of the region, but given the present civic infrastructure it will be difficult to achieve such a motive," he said.

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