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HindustanTimes Sun,21 Dec 2014

Plan for 5 lakh low-cost homes still to take off

Naresh Kamath, Hindustan Times  Mumbai, January 06, 2011
First Published: 02:29 IST(6/1/2011) | Last Updated: 02:31 IST(6/1/2011)

The ambitious plan to provide five lakh affordable houses in the city and its vicinity has gone kaput with the officials of the Maharashtra Chambers of Housing Industry (MCHI) and state government accusing each other of non-cooperation.

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Mooted eight months ago, the plan was to provide five lakh affordable dwellings, ranging from 160 sq ft to 600 sq ft, in Mumbai, Thane, Navi Mumbai and Raigad over five years, but till date not a single unit has been constructed.

While the builders are blaming the government, the state officials claim the former were not interested in providing cheap houses.  “Nothing has happened so far. The scheme depends on the will of the ministers of the state government,” said Pravin Doshi, former MCHI president, who had come up with the scheme. 

Doshi was the signatory to the memorandum of understanding (MoU) with then chief secretary JP Dange, who signed on behalf of the government, at a grand function held on April 28, 2010.

The MCHI has announced that 500 of its members had pledged to invest Rs. 15,000 crore in this scheme and their only demand was that the government should expedite granting of permissions to avoid escalating costs and delays in projects. 

“There is still a lot of red tapism in the government machinery and we are going through lot of problems,” said Sunil Mantri, president, MCHI. 

He said the MCHI would discuss the matter with chief minister Prithviraj Chavan and ask if the state intends to pursue the scheme.  Refuting the allegations, the government blamed the MCHI for being lax.

“I personally called up Dharmesh Jain [vice-president of MCHI] twice and told him to come with the proposals,” said Sachin Ahir, state minister for housing.

“Jain said he would revert, but till now nothing has been forthcoming from their [MCHI] side.”  He said that MCHI should respect the MoU and hold meetings with the state, which is committed to the scheme.

Activists have, however, questioned the entire rationale of the MoU.

“There was no mention of the rates of the apartments and who would determine them which is the basic factor for affordability,” said Ramesh Prabhu, housing activist.

He described the entire concept as just a public relation exercise.


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