Aiming to tide over the shortage of land to build affordable houses outside the Mumbai region,the state housing board has recently purchased 24 hectares from private owners for over Rs 100 crore.
The Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (MHADA) has purchased three plots in Pune,two in Nashik and one large plot in Nagpur,which total up to 60 acres (24 hectares).
While the housing board has merely two hectares of land left in Mumbai,MHADA vice-president Satish Gavai ruled out buying plots in the countrys financial capital due to exorbitant prices.
The Sunday Express had reported how 20 hectares of prime Mumbai land spread over 67 plots were handed over during the tenure of former chief ministers Vilasrao Deshmukh and Sushil Kumar Shinde for paltry sums to politicians,builders,bureaucrats and educational institutions and trusts controlled by Congress and NCP ministers.
We have purchased the six plots across Pune,Nagpur and Nashik for an amount in excess of Rs 100 crore and plan to immediately start construction so we can sell the affordable houses after 18 months. In Mumbai,we cannot afford to buy land at current rates. Instead,we will have to go for joint ventures with developers, said Gavai.
Under the joint venture (JV) scheme,developers willing to build and hand over a certain number of apartments to MHADA for public housing will get additional construction rights on the remaining portion of their land.
However,so far,not a single developer has come forward for the JV scheme in Mumbai; the only response has been from other areas of the Mumbai Metropolitan Region.
While there is no more land left for discretionary allotment in Mumbai,data shows that 93 MHADA plots in urban areas outside Mumbai are still in danger of being arbitrarily given away as they have been kept aside specifically for allotment under the state governments discretionary quota. Half of these plots are in the rapidly growing regions of Thane and Navi Mumbai.
With no more land available in the city under the discretionary policy,officials now fear that land meant for public housing outside Mumbai could be the next casualty even as MHADA is pumping in large sums of money to buy private land to cater to the states affordable housing needs.
The CM is against arbitrary allotment of plots meant for public housing but unless the existing policy is amended,with any change in leadership there is always a lurking threat of these plots going the way of the Mumbai plots, said a MHADA official.