In an exclusive interview to FPJ, the Maharashtra Housing Minister Dr Jitendra Awhad explains a slew of decisions to revive the ailing realty sector and put the slum rehabilitation projects and redevelopment projects in Mumbai on the fast track.
Q: Since you took over what are major decisions so far taken to boost the realty sector?
A: It has been my sincere endeavour to stop red tapism and the government should provide facilities to the realty sector. This is necessary as when the realty sector grows, it brings in churn in the market, increases jobs. That also leads to rotation of the monetary fund which is currently not happening. After the manufacturing sector, the realty sector is the biggest industry which generates revenue and jobs.
In Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (MHADA) and Slum Rehabilitation Authority (SRA), the decision making has been improved. Decisions which earlier took two years, now are taken in 90 to 180 days.
The department gave relief in the payment of various fees so that they can use that liquidity in the timely project completion. The realty players were allowed to initially put only 20% of the amount towards fees and premiums while for 80% the MHADA or SRA will hold some property or housing stock. It will be released at the time of occupational certificate. We are not at loss at the same time the realty player can also get the cushion.
Various premiums related to slum redevelopment projects have been relaxed by way of reductions and deferred payments. Along with the premium relaxations, the approvals timeline has been drastically reduced at all stages by SRA which is the nodal agency under the Housing Ministry to implement the slum redevelopment scheme.
The government has cleared the setting up of Rs 1,000 crore stress fund so that stuck slum rehabilitation projects can be completed.
Q: What is your vision for the redevelopment of Dharavi which has now emerged as a success story to curb Covid 19 pandemic?
A: Dharavi should be developed. We should send a signal globally that the government is committed to it. It is a project of top priority. At the recent meeting chaired by the Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, it was decided to appeal to the Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Railways Minister Piyush Goyal for an early release of 72 acre of land which will help facilitate redevelopment of Dharavi. The state government has already paid Rs 800 crore for the same land to the Indian Railways.
Q: What is happening in case of kick starting redevelopment of MHADA layouts?
A: MHADA has the land. The residents in such layouts are staying for the last 40-50 years. We have to take them into confidence. Only viable option is redevelopment.
Q: What is your take on the BDD redevelopment which has been stuck for years?
A: We will see that the redevelopment starts soon. You must understand the government got just two and half months before the lockdown was announced due to the coronavirus pandemic. To understand the department it takes more than 90 days and then to function. We have not opened the innings to play a five year test match. Despite lockdown my department is quite pro-active so that the redevelopment starts. BDD redevelopment is under the department's radar.
Q: Can you tell us the proposal of setting up health facilities at every MHADA and slum redevelopment projects?
A: All redevelopment projects should have 1,000 to 5,000 sq ft of dispensary which will provide first aid treatment to the residents. During the Covid-19 crisis, what we saw was the first aid facilities were not available, which caused severe hardships for the patients. The objective is to make availability of basic medical aid. The medical data or history of those residing in such colonies will be available in that dispensary.