Government should keep housing affordable

The Maharashtra government set up housing authorities MHADA and CIDCO with a view to provide affordable housing to the common man, at a time when even affording a shanty in Mumbai or its nearby suburbs has become a distant dream. However, like most government policies, even these two organisations are falling short in fulfilling their purpose. MHADA is selling homes at almost the market rate and now, new entrant CIDCO is following suit.

Both bodies, that allegedly provide affordable homes, are ignoring the fact that the common man relies on them for housing as they expect their prices to be lower than the market rate. However, the rates aren’t anywhere near to being affordable. Take, for instance, the MHADA projects in Powai, where flats were being sold a little above R15,000 per square foot, the existing market rate. Similarly, CIDCO, too, is now selling flats in Taloja, at prices that compare with the existing property rates in that area.

In 2007-08, the then MHADA head had questioned that when private builders could earn profits by selling homes, why couldn’t MHADA? His statement had come under a lot of criticism from all corners. While MHADA later backtracked and claimed that they will be constructing only affordable homes, it seems they are shying from their commitment.

MHADA and CIDCO, unlike private builders, don’t have to purchase land, as most of the land on which they construct their buildings belongs to the government.

In spite of this, they are selling homes at expensive rates. Apart from this, they sell forms, collect deposits, raking in several crores of rupees; the bodies also earn interest on these deposits. Still, what one gets is the anxiety of waiting for the lottery to take place, and if unsuccessful, then one has to wait for the refund.

It’s high time the government organisations realise that they’re here to provide affordable houses, not to compete with private developers, and should keep housing rates affordable.

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