Jitendra Awhad
Jitendra Awhad

Mumbai: The Maharashtra government has proposed construction of affordable homes on idle or unused land acquired by private developers for development of special economic zones (SEZs) across the state.

Thereby, nearly 25,000 acres of land in Mumbai, the Mumbai Metropolitan Region and in and around Pune can be put to use for affordable homes.

Minister of Housing Jitendra Awhad told FPJ, ‘‘The government will table a Bill in the state legislature whereby the SEZ developer will be asked to start the approved activity or industrial production on the SEZ land in two years.

It should cover more than 50% of the total land. If the developer fails to do so then the balance land will stand vested with the government and that will be used for construction of affordable homes.’’

He informed that the government will reimburse the cost of such balance land vested with it at the same rate at which it was acquired by the SEZ developer in the past.

Awhad said the State-run Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (MHADA) with reserves of Rs 14,000 crore will construct these homes.

He argued that the government’s move will not only give a much needed boost to the ailing realty industry but also curb speculation by SEZ developers.

As per the government data, as on date of the 147 SEZs approved, only 29 are operational using only around 7,500 acres of the land, while the other SEZs proposed on 65,820 acres failed to become functional with land remaining idle.

Anarock Chairman Anuj Puri said several private SEZ developers hold substantial portion of unused land near urban centres with some of it even falling within the MMR. ‘‘In fact, many of these developers had acquired the land previously but did not put it to use for the said purpose in all these years.

Therefore, it makes sense to release this land and what better way than harnessing it for affordable housing. It will be a significant  step in boosting the supply of affordable housing which is high in demand, particularly in MMR, where property prices have already skyrocketed over the years,’’ he noted.

Puri said as per Anarock research, MMR saw new supply of approximately 33,600 units in the affordable segment (priced at Rs 40 lakh each) in 2019, as against 24,000 units in 2018.

On the other hand, the National Real Estate Development Council President Niranjan Hiranandani said the SEZ policy has a sunset clause and hence using the balance lands amongst other uses should also be used for affordable housing.

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