At a time when there is acute shortage of affordable houses, the Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (Mhada) has lost an opportunity to procure 25,000 houses in Thane under a joint venture scheme with private builders.
The reason: the state’s urban development department, headed by chief minister Prithviraj Chavan, stayed the proposal and did not take a decision for three years.
Fed up of the wait, the 21 builders submitted letters and backed out of the scheme.
In October 2010, then CM Ashok Chavan had approved the scheme under which Mhada had to transfer its floor space index to the builder and pay construction costs for its share of built-up area; in return, it would get ready flats as compensation.
Mhada, which has a limited land bank, had estimated that this scheme could generate at least 1.5 lakh affordable houses across Maharashtra.
Pratap Sarnaik, chairman and director, Vihang group of companies which had tied with Mhada for two of its projects, blamed the state for scuttling the scheme. “It would have generated thousands of affordable houses and eased the housing shortage, but the CM just sat on the file,” he said.
Sarnaik said his two projects - Vihang Hills and Vihang Valley - would have created 1,500 flats for Mhada. Mhada, then headed by Gautam Chatterjee, had kept aside Rs. 200 crore to fund this scheme. It had fixed on the configuration of flats; there would be two kinds – one BHK of 380 sq ft and two BHK of 550 sq ft.
Defending the government Sachin Ahir, housing minister said it was wrong of Mhada to have entered into a JV as there are many issues involved.
“I agree that there was good response, but it was not as per Development Control rules. Even builders were not ready to convey the land to us,” Ahir said. “We are making some amendments and bringing the scheme back.”