OPENING UP public lands to private players for development has failed to meet the requirement of affordable housing in Mumbai and the state must give up its dependency on private parties for creation of affordable housing stock, said architect P K Das on Monday at the launch of a book he co-authored.
“Since 1991, governments have parted with substantial public and other resources and given them to private players in the belief that true development, including public housing, would be provided by them [private players]. Not surprisingly, the privatisation of development has miserably failed in providing any relief or solution to the housing crisis,” said Das, outlining the contents of the book ‘Chasing the Affordable Dream: A Plan to House Mumbai’s Millions’. The book is co-authored by Das, journalists Gurbir Singh and Kabir Agarwal as well as economist Ritu Dewan.
“The city at the moment is in a high state of underdevelopment. Most people do not have access to affordable housing, healthcare and education. If change has to be brought about and if the city has to develop, there’s one thing that must be done and we have talked about in great length in the book. The state must give up its dependency on free market for affordable housing and take the responsibility upon itself,” he said, adding that the new development plan (DP) hasn’t taken into account the public suggestions made earlier.
Das said the book makes three demands — any DP of a city must allocate land exclusively for affordable housing; taking cost of land out of the equation of affordable housing and regulate pricing for houses. He added that if the land under MHADA was judiciously developed under its Act, around 5,00,000 affordable homes would be created over and above the units required to rehabilitate the existing tenements.
Gautam Chatterjee, chairperson of Maharashtra Real Estate Regulatory Authority (MahaRERA), who unveiled the book with Shabana Azmi, said: “The book has captured the malaise in the housing sector in Mumbai. It has referred to lack of participatory planning in successive governments. Over the years, we have seen that this kind of planning, which according to me has to be a sovereign function, has been abdicated and given away to no one because no planning takes place.”
“The book goes on to say how the government through its policy expected that 75 per cent of the population — 50 per cent in slums and 25 per cent in dilapidated structures — would get rehabilitated or realise their housing dream without thinking how the remaining 25 per cent would cross subsidise the 75 per cent. It goes on to call the historic bluff by successive governments,” said Chatterjee, adding that he was speaking in his personal capacity and not as the head of MahaRERA.