A committee constituted to review the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authoritys (MMRDA) rental housing scheme has submitted a set of recommendations to the state government that may get the project back on track.
The committee,under the chairmanship of Metropolitan Commissioner Rahul Asthana,has suggested the nature of the scheme to be changed to affordable housing from rental housing.
The government makes a very poor landlord and we feel that MMRDA should not be in the business of renting and collecting money,so we thought we could have affordable housing rather than rental housing, Asthana said.
The committee has recommended that only 15 percent of the total flats be made available for rental housing. A certain percentage,between 15 to 25,be given to different urban local bodies and another 10 per cent be given on sale to government institutions so that they can let out the tenements to their employees.
The MMRDA had launched the rental housing scheme more than two years ago to provide low-cost flats and had set a target of having five lakh units in five years with rentals ranging from Rs 800 to Rs 1,400 a month for a 160 square feet flat. However,not a single flat is ready till date.
A second recommendation of the committee was to increase the area of flats from 160 square feet to 320 square feet.
A 160-square feet tenement is too small. Even when we rehabilitate project-affected people,we give tenements of 269 square feet, Asthana added. With bigger tenements,the density of population will be lower,the flats would be better and it will also prove to be economical for the developers.
The committee also suggested that the developers be given the option to utilise FSI of up to 4 rather than compulsorily using the entire FSI. The developer is expected to hand over one fourth of the construction as tenements for rental housing free of cost to the government.
Very shortly,the government should hold a meeting to discuss these recommendations. The scheme will be a lot more successful if these recommendations are implemented, Asthana said.
Asthana added that MMRDA may not necessarily implement the scheme and the mandate could also be given to other government agencies such as MHADA,which caters to affordable housing.
So far,clearances have been given for 90,000 tenements of 160 square feet each at 29 locations. The construction has already started at 17 of these locations for 30,000 tenements and the flats are expected to be ready within the next few months. Most of the sites where clearances have been given are at Thane,Kalyan and Panvel.