To make more low-cost houses available for the poor and the distressed, the state housing authority is considering doing away with the quota for legislators, parliamentarians and government employees in houses to be sold for the economically weaker sections.
Instead, the Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (MHADA) is thinking of keeping aside a certain number of these houses for “women in distress” and people from the unorganized sector such as auto-rickshaw and taxi drivers or registered labourers. A senior official, requesting anonymity, said, “Generally, within five years of service, any state government or MHADA employee gets a monthly income that is generally above Rs 15,000 to 16,000 per month. It is the same with MPs and MLAs. So, we are considering using these houses that are currently reserved for the government employees and public representatives for other people who need the houses. This will free up about 20-21 per cent of the total houses in the income category.”
Under MHADA’s revised income criteria, a person earning up to Rs 16,000 per month falls under the economically weaker section category. “The idea is to make such houses available for people working in the unorganised sector or women who have suffered sexual of physical assault, divorcees, widows, commercial sex workers, transgenders and so on,” the official said.
Similarly, having faced heavy criticism for the rising cost of its supposedly affordable houses, the authority is also internally working on several measures that could rationalise the cost of its houses, especially those meant for the economically weaker sections and lower-income groups.
The authority is looking at redesigning certain factors such as the establishment costs and contingency costs in its pricing policy to lower the price houses for economically weaker sections and lower-income groups, and charge more for the higher-income group.
The authority has already created a cost subsidy fund where it will from now on deposit all the profit that it earns from selling middle-income group and higher-income group flats to bring down the cost of houses for the poor.
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Similarly, it has also decided to bring down the interest on capitalisation that it charges, which will reduce the overall ticket size of houses. “Wherever possible, the authority is also thinking about constructing commercial space on 10-12 per cent of the total area of our residential complexes. These units can be auctioned and will bring in significant funds that can be used to subsidise the cost of houses,” the official said.
Besides, the authority is planning to approach the state government to see if social welfare funds for providing benefits to people belonging to the scheduled castes, scheduled tribes, nomadic tribes and so on can be used by MHADA for constructing houses for such people.
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 has also been under discussion. 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.