The BJP-led Maharashtra government on Tuesday formally adopted the Union government’s ‘housing for all’ scheme to be implemented in 51 cities, but stopped short of setting a target on how many low-cost houses it estimates to create by 2022.
The Devendra Fadnavis-led government had in May declared that it would build 19 lakh affordable houses by 2022. Officials later considered scaling down the target, considering it to be too steep and unachievable.
A senior housing department official said, “It is difficult to set a target and say exactly how many houses will be created through the various interventions in this policy. There will be criticism later if we set a target now and fail to achieve it. However, without any policy intervention, considering the various avenues through which affordable housing is being created in Maharashtra, one can expect 6.5 lakh to 7 lakh low-cost houses to be ready by 2022.”
While this is a far cry from the 19 lakh low-cost houses that it had earlier said it would create, it is also much lower than the projected requirement of affordable houses by then. Housing Minister Prakash Mehta said there is a requirement of 25 lakh affordable houses across the state as per various surveys and statistics compiled by bureaucrats and the state would try to meet this number. “Of the 25 lakh, 11 lakh houses will be required in Mumbai city and suburbs. There would be a need for another 5 lakh houses in the rest of the Mumbai Metropolitan Region and 9 lakh homes would be required in other parts of Maharashtra. We have to be positive and try to meet this requirement,” he said.
As part of the ‘housing for all’ initiative, formulated under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana, the government has charted out four approaches to provide low-cost housing — slum redevelopment on the existing plot, an interest subsidy scheme, creation of housing stock on a public-private participation model, and beneficiary-led individual houses. Using these approaches, the government can create houses of up to 30 sqm for the economically weaker sections and 60 sqm for the lower-income groups.
The Union government will provide funding of Rs 1.5 lakh per tenement created under the scheme, while the state government will top it up with another Rs 1 lakh. The state government has also relaxed the income criteria for economically weaker sections and lower-income groups to bring it in line with the Centre’s directive.
Accordingly, a person with an annual income of Rs 3 lakh would be classified under the economically weaker section category as against the earlier
Rs 1.8 lakh per annum, while for lower-income groups, the income limit has been raised to Rs 6 lakh per annum from the current Rs 4.8 lakh per annum.
“The slum redevelopment part will not be applicable to the cities where the Slum Rehabilitation Authority is already undertaking slum rehabilitation works, since the latter offers free housing while the former only offers subsidised housing,” the senior housing department official said.
The government is, however, considering extending the benefits of subsidised housing to those considered ineligible for free housing by the Slum Rehabilitation Authority.