Minister Jitendra Awhad
Minister Jitendra Awhad

The Maharashtra Housing Minister Jitendra Awhad, in an interview with the Free Press Journal, said the government’s slew of decisions, including the stamp duty cut and establishment of an independent Slum Rehabilitation Authority, will help revive the ailing realty sector and also improve sentiments among homebuyers.

What is your view on the stamp duty reduction, especially during the present economic downturn?

It will help in market correction. The stock prices on exchanges were two to five per cent high in the last five to six months. It has started showing results. People are waiting for the market correction. The moment there is a correction in the market and the value of the real estate comes down a little, there will be a big flow of buyers.

Due to COVID-19, small houses with toilets will be in big demand. People will go for a house with a toilet and bathroom to protect them from all hazards of the pandemic.

The moment the demand issues are addressed, the supply issues will be solved. We are looking at the improvement in the market conditions. Once it happens, especially in real estate, it will boost job creation and revive the overall economy.

Do you expect realty players going for affordable housing?

Affordable housing will be a game changer. The developers will prefer to undertake and complete affordable housing projects instead of big and luxury homes. The spurt in affordable housing will help the common man to buy it.

Considering its land constraints, does Mumbai have scope for more housing projects?

Basically, Mumbai has no open land. From Sion to Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus (CSMT) and from Bandra to CSMT, we hardly find open land. Mumbai can expect redevelopment. Whatever support the government will give to it will be for redevelopment and rehabilitation of slums and old and dilapidated buildings. This will bring in churn in the real estate sector.

Despite the slew of decisions for the ease of doing business, developers complain about higher premium and ready reckoner rates. How will you help to address these concerns?

I have requested the Chief Minister and the ministers of urban development and revenue to positively look into these issues.

Do you subscribe to the view that builders and developers should reduce the cost of disposing the inventory?

Market conditions are so bad that there are no buyers. One will not expect them to lose 100% and sell. Their survival is also important and, for that, things will have to improve. They might not expect abnormal profits, but I will not think of abnormal losses for them. Corrective measures are, therefore, taken so that builders and developers can sail through this crisis and take up projects.

What is your take on the establishment of an independent Slum Rehabilitation Authority for the Mumbai Metropolitan Region?

If we have good development on the outskirts of Mumbai, that is in MMR region, then the burden on the metropolis will be reduced. If this arithmetic works, then the rehabilitation of slums in Vasai, Mira Bhayander, Ambernath, Ulhasnagar and Kalyan can be taken up by providing good amenities to the people. This will promote affordable housing and for that the government will provide all the possible incentives.

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