Now, state govt dilutes affordable housing policy

MumbaiThe policy will also not be applicable to developments outside areas governed by major municipal corporations like Mumbai, Pune, Thane, and Nagpur.
Now, builders will be required to reserve 20 per cent land for affordable housing only in projects on over 4,000-sq m plots. Nearly two years after Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan unveiled a new plan to boost affordable housing stock in the state, his government has watered down its main provisions.

The initial notification made it mandatory for developers of layout plots above 2,000 sq m to construct homes for the economically weaker section (EWS) and low income group (LIG) on 20 per cent of the built-up space.

While the notification was issued in January last year, Chavan approved changes to it on November 2. Senior government officials said the Urban Development (UD) department, which is under the CM, will issue a final notification in this regard in the next few days, following which the policy will come into force.

The policy will also not be applicable to developments outside areas governed by major municipal corporations like Mumbai, Pune, Thane, and Nagpur.

After issuing the initial notification last year, the government had sought suggestions and objections from people. According to sources, developers made official representation demanding that the minimum plot size be increased. Some had demanded that the policy only be applied to plots over 10,000 sq m, a senior government official said.

The policy requires the developer to construct homes of 30 sq m and 50 sq m respectively for EWS and LIG on 20 per cent of the built-up space. The tenements have to be handed over to the Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (MHADA) in lieu of payment of construction cost.

The plan is to allot 50 per cent of the homes under the MHADA's public lottery process, whereas the rest are to be split equally between the local civic body and the state government for transit shelters and staff quarters.

Sources said an increase in the minimum size of the plot would mean the policy can now be applied to fewer development projects, which in turn means lesser number of affordable homes.

A senior official said the government decided to alter the provisions after it found merit in the developers' argument regarding planning constraints for smaller plots. The developers had also raised concerns regarding the feasibility of housing low-income sections along with higher income groups in a single building.

The government official said increasing the minimum plot size to 4,000 sq m would permit developers to construct two independent buildings. With limited housing stock at its disposal, MHADA has been pushing for the implementation of this policy.

Sandeep Ashar

[email protected]

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