2 years later, 5 lakh homes only on paper

Tomorrow, it will be exactly two years since Maharashtra Chamber of Housing Industry (MCHI) and the state government inked a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU). The intent was to develop five lakh affordable homes in Mumbai and the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR). However, in a recent statement, MCHI has claimed that nothing has been accomplished in the last 24 months. According to the builders’ body, the proposal to create five lakh houses as part of the Homes for All initiative between the real estate industry and the Maharashtra government is gathering dust in Mantralaya.

Distant dream
“The overall objective of the initiative was to address the yawning housing demand-supply gap and to provide affordable homes to the economically weaker sections, lower income group and middle income group,” Paras Gundecha, president of MCHI-CREDAI said. In this whole initiative the builders were going to develop the affordable homes on their projects and lands. MCHI also claims that the availability of these five lakh houses would have eased the demand-supply mismatch and kept the market rates under some kind of check. “But unfortunately, today, Mumbai has emerged as the costliest real estate market in the country,” said Gundecha. Gundecha claims the government usually doesn’t give clearances and the few ventures that get the nod are stopped midway. If the same situation persists, then nothing will happen even in the next five years, they say.

High-rises, high prices: Builders say if the project had come to fruition, the demand-supply mismatch in Mumbai, which has emerged as the costliest real estate market in the country, would have been checked to a great extent. Representation pic

Decision deficit?
According to MCHI, in spite of repeated reminders to the authorities at various levels, nothing has been accomplished, though, as per the MoU, the state government was to extend all necessary cooperation. The MoU envisaged government steps like including revamping legislation, offering incentives to developers, and authorising the nodal agency to provide for a single-window clearance to projects comprising affordable homes. The pact was signed between the then chief minister Ashok Chavan and the then MCHI president Pravin Doshi. Even other ministers and several bureaucrats were present in the meeting. However, with the new CM and the change in bureaucracy, builders say things have changed dramatically.

The government claims that it’s unfair on the part of the builders to play this blame game. “We had meetings with the builders, there were engagements with the chief minister – both the past and the present one. However, some of their demands were practical, and others weren’t. Hence, not everything could be accepted. We did try to accommodate the builders and if the projects didn’t start then it’s not just our fault,” said Sachin Ahir, state housing minister. 

April 28, 2010
Maharashtra Chamber of Housing Industry and the state government inked a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the aim of developing five lakh affordable homes in Mumbai and the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR). 

Sanjay Chaturvedi, executive editor Accommodation Times:
It is the government’s duty to provide shelter at cheaper rates, and not the builders’. But then if builders are trying to do this then the government should help them in fulfilling this dream.

C Rathod, a resident of Parel: All this is just talk. No one meant to do anything. If they wanted, they could have started the project, but probably they didn’t see much profit in it. The government and builder lobby are only interested in making money. 

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