With the “low-cost” houses of the Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (MHADA) increasingly getting more expensive, the housing authority is considering slashing the tenement area for economically weaker sections to make houses cheaper for them at the current rates.
The state housing authority is considering building smaller units with a maximum carpet area of 180 square feet to reduce the overall ticket size of the flats for the economically weaker sections. For the past few years, MHADA has been constructing houses with a minimum carpet area of about 269 square feet even for the people of economically weaker sections.
According to the proposal, once the owners of these small units are financially stronger and are in a position afford bigger houses, they can trade their small homes for bigger MHADA flats by paying the differential amount as calculated by the authority, Satish Gavai, chief executive at MHADA, said.
“The minimum prices of the houses that we are currently building are around Rs 15 lakh. First-time home buyers with low incomes cannot afford these houses. So, we are looking at making small units available for them at about Rs 5 to Rs 6 lakh,” Gavai said.
He added that the authority used to construct tenements of such small sizes about 10 to 15 years ago, but of late has been undertaking construction of houses of at least 269 sq ft in carpet area as per guidelines of the Union government.
“Guidelines say that houses should be at least 269 square feet, but that is not mandatory. In a place like Mumbai, where real estate prices are so high, it is not possible to construct houses of this size and still make them affordable for people from lower economic background,” Gavai said.
In this year’s MHADA lottery, for which applications will start from April 15, the housing authority is selling 235 houses at Mankhurd for the economically weaker sections. The carpet area of all these houses is 269 sq ft and the flat price has been fixed at Rs 16.26 lakh.
As per MHADA norms, applicants with a monthly income of under Rs 16,000 per month fall in the economically weaker section category. The housing authority recently tweaked the eligibility income criteria for this year’s lottery, keeping in mind the changing consumer price index and the rising cost of MHADA homes. Till last year, those with a monthly income of under Rs 8,000 were considered to belong to the economically weaker section.