The central government has decided to push a proposal to free up salt pan lands in Mumbai and utilise the Centre’s land to create affordable housing under the Prime Minister’s ‘Housing for All’ mission. The state government has been asked to submit a master plan — which the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) has started preparing — detailing the proposed use of this land.
The ambitious plan to avail of the Centre’s land was discussed at the 22nd meeting of the Western Zonal Council at the Sahyadri guest house on Friday. The meeting was chaired by Union home minister Rajnath Singh. Once freed, affordable housing can be constructed on part of the 2,177-hectare land in Mumbai and its extended suburbs. The Centre has also mandated the redevelopment of land owned by the railways, defence and other central agencies.
“We have asked the State to submit the master plan to the Department of Industrial Policy and Planning at the earliest. We are positive that the land will be utilised to its maximum capacity under the Prime Minister’s Awas Yojana scheme. It will help us fulfil the ambitious mission of providing affordable housing to the poor by 2022,” said Naini Jayaseelan, secretary, Inter State Council Secretariat.
Maharashtra chief secretary Swadheen Kshatriya said the master plan will have a clear picture of the salt pan land available for affordable homes. “The report will provide details about what part of the land is a Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ). It will also provide details about wetland regulation, encroachments and the occupation of the mangroves. Affordable housing will be discussed. We are chalking out a plan for the redevelopment of other central lands in the city,” he said.
For years, Maharashtra has been pushing for the opening up of salt pan lands for housing-related purposes. The proposal had been stuck due to contentious issues such as the land sharing formula and ongoing litigation. Of the total 2,177 hectares of land (as per State estimates), 360 hectares is available for housing. 460 hectares have been encroached upon, and in many cases, tied up in legal disputes. 700 hectares come under CRZ regulations, which need to be reviewed.
The real estate sector welcomed this move, calling it necessary step. “The government needs to release self-owned lands for the development of affordable housing, or incentivise the use of other lands that are currently not allowed for development, specifically for the development of housing for the working class,” said Ramesh Nair, COO (Business & International Director) JLL India. “With regard to salt pans being converted into residential zones, areas from Airoli to Mulund will become more developed as a result,” he added.
What does the government plan to do with this land?
The state government wants the Centre to agree to a land-sharing ratio of 50:50. The state government will use its share of land to relocate slums and project-affected people who have encroached upon government land. If there are slums that have been built on defense, railways or Mumbai Port Trust land, the residents will be relocated to the newly-freed salt pan lands that come under the Centre.