Shiv Sena, the ruling party in the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), has come up with an idea to generate revenue. The party wants the civic body to construct houses in the city on plots reserved for public housing and rent them to poor and needy. However, the builders and the housing minister are sceptical about the proposal’s practicality.
Standing Committee Chairperson Rahul Shewale on Wednesday announced that there was a proposal on constructing residential buildings on BMC plots and renting them out. Shewale claimed that an FSI of 4 would be given for the purpose. Shewale said, “We (BMC) have plots reserved for public housing and can construct homes on them. It can provide us with revenue as well. If the state government abolishes octroi, then this could be a source of revenue.”
Doubts loom large
While Shewale is confident that the civic body would construct these homes and rent them out soon, builders questioned about the availability of land for the ambitious project. Anand Gupta, Treasurer of the Builders Association of India, said, “Where is the land BMC plans to construct homes on. Most of its reserved plots are either encroached upon or rented. On some of the rented plots builders have already started construction.
There’s hardly any BMC land that has not been encroached upon. If you check the SRA, you’ll find that nearly 200 projects are on the civic land itself. The BMC is being ambitious and it doesn’t seem to be practical.” Though Housing Minister Sachin Ahir claimed the project was a novel idea, even he expressed doubts over its implementation. “No doubts the BMC has numerous plots, but most of them are encroached upon. But even if the encroachments are taken care of, the BMC will have to answer its own staff first for whom it had planned homes but failed to fulfil its promise completely,” Ahir said.
Work in progress
Replying to the scepticism, Shewale said the BMC would shift encroachers to houses built for Project Affected People (PAP) or rehabilitate them at the same location. “Encroachment is not a big issue. The civic body also has powers of slum rehabilitation,” he said. While Municipal Commissioner Sitaram Kunte remained unavailable for comment, senior BMC officials said the civic body had planned houses for its conservancy staff, but has not been able to provide them with accommodation till date, as the file was yet to be cleared.
This is not the first time that the BMC has planned to construct houses. It had done it in past during the pre-independence era. In 1890, during British Raj, the corporation had constructed 133 buildings under the Bombay Improvement Trust (BIT) on prime locations in the island city.
The buildings constructed near and around textile mills were rented out to mill workers. The buildings are still owned and maintained by the BMC. Every year, a few crores are allocated for the maintenance of these buildings. These chawls are located in Mumbai Central, Agripada, Sion, Parel and Mazgaon, which are close to the mills and the areas have witnessed massive real estate development in the past few years.