After several futile attempts at scrounging for land, the Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (MHADA) is soon set to issue tenders for constructing affordable housing on 67 vacant plots all across the city. Totalling to more than 12 hectares of land, the plots were found by the land-starved housing board following a recent internal review.
Officials point out that with the state government increasing the floor space index (FSI) for MHADA homes to three a few months ago, the land parcels will generate a sizeable number of homes that could be released through its annual lottery.
The find is significant considering the fact that in its last stocktaking in 2010 revealed that the four-decade-old housing board’s available land reserves have dipped to two hectares from 1,762.
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Since then, even these two hectares of land in Shimpoli at Kandivli has been taken up for construction leaving MHADA with little choice but to turn to redevelopment of its existing housing colonies and sector five of the Dharavi slums for generating fresh housing stock.
During a recent review, the housing board found these long-forgotten 67 plots in the suburbs in areas such as Charkop and Versova in Andheri, Malwani in Malad, Gorai and MHB colony in Borivali, Akurli and Ekta Nagar in Kandivali, PGMP colony in Mulund, Tagore Nagar and Kannamwar nagar in Vikhroli, Pant nagar in Ghatkopar, Nehru Nagar and Vinobha Bhave Nagar in Kurla, Sahakar Nagar and Tilak Nagar in Chembur, Santacruz and Juhu.
These plots were to be auctioned off to private individuals or developers in 2004 at throw-away rates, as was the long-standing practice until then. For instance, in Chembur where apartments today command upward of Rs 15,000 per sq ft, plots were to be sold for as low as Rs 830 per sq ft. Even expensive plots in Juhu, where today homes sell for Rs 30,000 plus per sq ft, were available for a measly Rs 3,625 per sq ft.
“Till 2005-2006, MHADA homes and land had few takers since there was not much difference in pricing between public housing and better quality private housing,” said an official. Over the past decade, private real estate rates in Mumbai have zoomed. This has led to a spurt in demand for MHADA homes. On an average 100 hopeful home-buyers queue up for every available home.