Chief minister Prithviraj Chavan, on Wednesday, cut back his powers to allot flats from his discretionary quota and approved guidelines to make the process more objective.
The chief minister has two quotas from where he can allot flats — 2% of the total houses built by Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (MHADA), and 5% of all flats built under the Urban Land Ceiling Act.
Up until now, the chief minister had total discretion while deciding whom these flats went to, which often attracted allegations of favouritism.
The new guidelines now reserve 50% of the flats as quarters for government and semi-government employees.
The remaining flats will be divided among five categories. These include heirs of army and police personnel killed in action; Olympic, Commonwealth or Asian Games medallists; Padma awardee scientists; national and state-awarded registered journalists and elected representatives (MLAs, MLCs and MPs).
The guidelines are based on recommendations made by a committee set up in the wake of the Adarsh housing scam when Congress president Sonia Gandhi asked all chief ministers of Congress-ruled states to abdicate these discretionary powers.
The committee of senior officials was led by TC Benjamin, principal secretary of the Urban Development Department; Gautam Chatterjee, principal secretary of housing; and Swadhin Kshatriya, principal secretary of revenue.
Chavan made certain modifications to the original recommendations. The CM’s move to cut his powers will allow him little flexibility in allotting homes, but could save him from needless controversies. The decision comes even as the high court is hearing a public interest litigation that seeks to do away with such discretionary powers. The court had asked government to come back with their policy on the issue.
“Now, the only discretion the chief minister has is to screen the applicants and take a call. In this too, he will be guided by the qualifications of the applicant. There is no fixed quota for these categories,” said a senior official, on condition of anonymity.