A month after the state government issued final orders to discontinue its six-year-old rental housing policy and instead replace it with the affordable housing schemes on ownership basis, it has now issued a clarification stating that all proposed projects that were granted a location clearance will be allowed to continue construction under the old rental scheme.
A fourth of the total 1.06 lakh proposed rental housing units by the MMRDA were granted location clearance by the planning agency but could not proceed as construction permissions by the respective civic bodies were delayed. Almost 30,000 rental units that were proposed in 15 schemes by private developers outside the Greater Mumbai and Navi Mumbai area of MMR fall under this category.
As per orders issued by the state urban development department earlier this year, all rental schemes were to convert to affordable housing projects.
“This would have meant that instead of the floor space index (FSI) of 4 available for rental units, such projects would have had to start construction with a lower FSI of 3 on a minimum plot area of 4000 sqm. Also those that were planned in the non-municipal areas of MMR would have to be scrapped entirely under the new policy,” said a senior state government official.
The government’s current stand to allow these to continue as per the old scheme was taken after the MMRDA wrote to the state government in June this year stating that such projects should not be made to pay the price of the local bodies’ slow building approval process .
While rental housing comes under the MMRDA’s purview, under affordable housing schemes developers constructing the affordable units have to hand them over directly to the respective municipal corporation and councils. The local bodies can then transfer the same to the Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (MHADA) for its annual sale through draw of lots.
The rental scheme, introduced in August 2008 was scrapped owing to several complaints about the strain on infrastructure caused by such projects that were allowed to come up even in non-urbanized areas using FSI as high as 8 even though on paper the allowance was for 4 FSI. A majority of the projects were creating homes for a population density that was 10 to 15 times higher the maximum allowed density of 400 families in one hectare area.
In fact the State Expert Appraisal Action Committee for granting environmental clearances had objected to projects such as the 16 acre Arihant Akanksha and 28 acre Indiabulls Greens in villages near Panvel due to their overbearing densities. Some of the other big names who launched major projects under the rental policy in the peripheral areas of MMR include Tata Housing Development Company, DB Realty, Ackruti, Lodha group and Dosti group.
The new policy lowers the density in several ways such as disallowing such schemes in non-municipal areas, lowering the overall FSI and increasing the unit size from 160 sq ft to 269 sq ft. The size of apartments are inversely proportionate to the density as bigger homes accommodate lesser number of families. It also mandates that the FSI share of 1:3 for the affordable and free sale component should be spread out proportionately on the plot and so should the open spaces.