As the Maharashtra Government gets cracking on formulating a new housing policy for the state, Housing Minister Atul Save told the FPJ that the keywords in the new blueprint will be “affordability and simplicity”.
In an exclusive interview with FPJ, Save said that the thrust of the new policy will remain affordable housing for the economically weaker sections. With an eye on forthcoming elections both in the state and at the centre the Shinde-Fadnavis government is all set to give a big boost to affordable housing by continuing with the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana in 2024 as well.
Two lakh affordable homes under construction: Save
“We have sanctioned over two and a half lakh affordable homes in the state of which two lakh are under construction,” the minister said.
In addition, the government is also working on slashing the high premium charges that the developers have to pay to the Mumbai Municipal Corporation and other bodies for approval of their projects in the state’s financial capital Mumbai. “We want affordable homes for ‘girni kamgars’ and mill workers and also encourage inclusive housing”, he added.
Save maintained that “Premiums will be rationalised to encourage developers to make affordable homes in Mumbai for lower and middle income groups. We are working on this and will announce it in our new housing policy”.
At present Mumbai developers have to pay a whopping ₹54,221 per sq mtrs as approval/premium charges as compared to ₹2,166 per sq mtrs in Delhi NCR, ₹5,466 per sq mtrs in Chennai, ₹1,145 per sq mtrs in Bengaluru and ₹1,071 in Hyderabad. “Once these are scaled down, the cost of homes will automatically come down because when we pay high approval charges to the BMC we end up transferring this burden to the home buyers. Once the government rationalises this, we can transfer the benefit to the people”, says Keval Valambia, CEO, CREDAI-MCHI.
According to real estate developers, there are more than 25 types of premiums that a developer ends up paying to authorities. Nearly 20 to 30 per cent of the project cost goes towards these premiums which in turn impacts property costs. The burden is passed on to home buyers in the low cost and affordable sectors. “In order to make housing affordable, the project costs need to be brought down. If the government cuts real estate premiums it will enable us to focus on low cost housing”.
The minister further added that as of now 15,000 homes under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana in Solapur’s Ray Nagar are ready for distribution and the government is awaiting Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s consent to be personally present to hand them over to the beneficiaries.
Addl Chief Secretary, Housing Department, Valsa Nair Singh told the FPJ that work on the policy has commenced; the draft is being worked on and the government was in discussion with different stakeholders. “Yes the focus will be on affordable housing for economically weaker sections”.
Need to redefine definition of 'affordable housing'
Meanwhile, Valambia said that during the joint meetings with Save and Valsa Nair, CREDAI-MCHI has suggested that the very definition of ‘affordable housing’ in the city of Mumbai needs to be redefined. “Today affordable housing as defined by Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (MHADA) implies that a home has to cost less than ₹45 lakhs and be below 60 sq mtrs area (which is roughly 600 sq ft). In Mumbai where can you get a house for less than ₹45 lakhs?” he asked.
He added that the entire concept of ‘affordable housing index’ needs to be relooked at; a new one needs to be introduced in metro cities and premiums must be rationalised. “Mumbai as a city needs to be tackled differently from other parts of the state even as welfare of citizens must be a concern,” he added.