Maharashtra: State eases norms to free up industrial land for housinghttps://indianexpress.com/article/cities/mumbai/maharashtra-eases-norms-to-free-up-industrial-land-housing-5560295/

Maharashtra: State eases norms to free up industrial land for housing

In a bid to overcome its chronic housing crisis, Maharashtra, the country’s most industrialised state, on Tuesday eased norms regarding turning over of revenue land that were originally earmarked for industrial activity for residential and commercial use.

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In April 2017, the Devendra Fadnavis-led government had first adopted a policy to free up such industrial land. On Tuesday, the state cabinet made it more lucrative by slashing the premiums for conversion of the land use. (Representational Image)

Industrial precincts tucked away in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR) and other expanding urban neighbourhoods in Maharashtra could soon make way for the next wave of high-end residences.

In a bid to overcome its chronic housing crisis, Maharashtra, the country’s most industrialised state, on Tuesday eased norms regarding turning over of revenue land that were originally earmarked for industrial activity for residential and commercial use.

In April 2017, the Devendra Fadnavis-led government had first adopted a policy to free up such industrial land. On Tuesday, the state cabinet made it more lucrative by slashing the premiums for conversion of the land use.

“The historic development of industrial areas was contemplated in localities on the fringes of the urban environment.

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But a majority of the industrial suburbs and areas in the MMR, for instance, are now surrounded by residences. Over a period of time many of these industrial areas have become functionally obsolete with Development Control regulations imposing fresh curbs on industrial activity and rezoning these areas in the city’s development plan,” said an official.

With some top business families and industrial houses complaining that the premiums being sought for were steep, the cabinet halved the premium rates across various categories.

Meanwhile, in a contentious decision, the state cabinet on Tuesday also relaxed the ceiling on holding agricultural land — which varies from 18 acres to 54 acres depending on the type of land — when acquired for building integrated residential townships.

Earlier, those holding lease tenures for such industrial plots and those allotted occupancy rights on market values were required to pay 50 per cent of the ready reckoner (RR) values (market values of a property as determined by the government). This has now been halved to 25 per cent. Similarly, premiums for those enjoying the occupation of such plots on concessional rates have come down from 100 per cent to 50 per cent. An additional 25 per cent premium will be applicable in all such cases where there has been an “illegal” change of use in the past.

In cases where the city development plan has retained the “industrial” land use of the plot, the state has said that a change of user application will be entertained only after inviting expression of interests from other industrial houses to run the facility.

The state has also clarified that the land’s ownership will continue to vest with the government even after the change of land use.

While the government has argued that the move will release more buildable space and boost the affordable housing stock, senior government sources said that top business families, and industrial houses, granted industrial land in the MMR will emerge as its biggest beneficiaries.

Official statistics reveal that the MMR alone accounts for 5,582 acres of vacant land that was exempted under the erstwhile Urban Land (Ceiling and Regulation) Act, 1976, a bulk of which comprises revenue land allotted by the state for industrial purposes.

The state has clarified that the latest policy for conversion will not be applicable for cases where the government has acquired the land before leasing or allotting it to an industrial house. It will also not be applicable to cases where the land is found to be designated for public purposes in the development plan. Also, those found to have violated terms of allotment or lease, or those who have not historically used the land for industrial purposes at all will not be eligible for the benefit.