Manoj Yermalkar (36), a purchase manager with Otis Elevator India Ltd, is happy that he would now be able to buy a house where basic infrastructure would be in place, thanks to the state's housing policy.
Yermalkar, a resident of Thane's Ghodbunder Road, owns a flat in New Brahmand Complex but the lack of proper water supply, good connectivity and other basic amenities have always disappointed him.
"But I hope the scene will change in the next three years and then I can move out to a better place," he told The Saturday Hindustan Times. "Money is not an issue. What I want is better living conditions."
What has really attracted prospective consumers like Yermalkar is that the housing policy would help decongest the municipal corporation limits in Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR).
The state proposes to encourage special townships outside municipal/council areas. And this would come with a string attached. The township developer would have to provide basic infrastructure in return of more floor square index (FSI).
The state would also help civic bodies and government agencies with extra funding for providing connectivity and better means of communications.
MMR has hardly been the state's priority before. Mumbai and its suburbs would get most funds through the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) despite the fact that the state undertaking was supposed to go beyond city limits.
The World Bank's preparedness to contribute Rs 27,000 cr in the next 25 years for MMR's development has given the government a shot in the arm.
The government has even appointed Canadian firm LEA International Ltd to draw a world-class plan for the region.
However, the politicians feel that the concern for common people isn't the sole reason for the government to shift its focus to MMR. "It has a lot to do with vote bank," said a Congress minister, on condition of anonymity.
The delimitation has created 14 extra Assembly seats in the MMR making all political parties—especially the ruling Democratic Front concentrate on areas beyond Borivali, Thane and New Mumbai. By next Assembly polls, the MMR (including Mumbai and suburbs) would be in a position to decide the state's next Chief Minister.
No wonder, then, the Nationalist Congress Party president Sharad Pawar had told HT few months ago that MMR would be the government's prime target. "We need to give better facilities to people living in MMR," he said.
"It would a blessing in disguise if our good work translates into votes. Every government wants to make people happy and we're doing exactly the same," said Congerss spokesperson Sanjay Nirupam.
He also asked for stringent punitive action against the builders who tend to cheat consumers. The Bharatiya Janata Party has welcomed the policy. Shiv Sena has taken an opposite stand saying that it would increase rates as builders would now charge more for the carpet areas.
Sanjay Verghese, a property expert said the builders might provide cheaper houses. But then the consumers won't get amenities like gardens, playing space, clubhouse and swimming pool.
The present property rates MMR beyond Thane and Borivali are Rs 4500-1200 per sq ft.
"Instead of huge townships the builders would just make the residential buildings without any extra facility," said Verghese.
(With inputs from Megha Sood)