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Maharashtra largesse for slum-dwellers, house-seekers

Ahead of the forthcoming civic bodies polls, the Maharashtra government Monday announced two major decisions which would make affordable housing a reality and better amenities for slum-dwellers across the state.

In a bid to enhance the stock of affordable housing, the Democratic Front Government has made it mandatory for all builders and developers to reserve 20 percent of any property above 2,000 square metres for housing the poor.

"This is a revolutionary decision which would benefit the poor, especially in urban areas like Mumbai, Thane,and Pune," Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan said here.

Chavan said that any developer preparing a layout of more than 2,000 square metres would be required to set aside 20 percent of the land for constructing houses of 30 to 50 square metres (around 300-500 square feet).

Similarly, while developing major housing projects, it will now be mandatory for developers to reserve 20 percent of the flats admeasuring 27.88 to 45 sq.mts (around 275-450 square feet) for economically weaker or low income groups, he said.

These properties would be purchased by MHADA, the state's apex housing stock creator, at the construction cost and allotted to poor and needy people through its regular lottery systems for which the necessary development control rules would be amended, he said.

In another move, Chavan announced that those people living in slums regularized till 1995 would now be eligible for all facilities, including redevelopment.

However, this would be subject to the final decision on the proposed amendment to the development control regulations, which would be necessary for the purpose, he added.

Chavan said that lakhs of people living in slums regularised till 1995 have not been able to get the benefits of development as they do not have the proper documents proving their eligibility.

Accordingly, the development of these slums has been stuck up for years, which would now be possible, for the estimated 35 percent of the state's population living in slums, mostly in urban centres.

In Mumbai, Chavan said the move is expected to directly benefit the development and beautification of the slums around Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport as well Dharavi, considered the biggest slum pocket of Asia.

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