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5 lakh affordable flats in five years

If this project goes through, many who are unable to afford housing in the metro due to steep real estate prices will be able to buy a home.

mumbai Updated: Apr 07, 2010 00:56 IST

If this project goes through, many who are unable to afford housing in the metro due to steep real estate prices will be able to buy a home.

The Maharashtra Chambers of Housing Industry (MCHI) a body of developers, on Tuesday announced that it would sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the state government to be part of the latter’s plan to construct five lakh affordable houses within five years in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR).

The MMR consists of Mumbai, Thane and Raigad.

MCHI plans to construct flats measuring 160-600 square feet to be offered to the middle and lower income groups. Their plan is to use the current schemes to construct at least one lakh such houses annually to meet the five-year target.

The main condition for the success of this scheme is that the government should expedite granting of building permissions, which currently works on a snail pace.

“Our members are ready to undertake this challenge and deliver. But all we ask from the government is a single window clearance system,” said Pravin Doshi, President, MCHI.

He said that faster permissions would have a cascading effect, as the construction activity will increase, there would be more houses for sale and consequently the prices would drop making homes more affordable.

Doshi said that more than 150 developers have shown interest in this scheme, which is valued at Rs 15,000 crore.

At present, there are only 40,000 houses coming up annually in the MMR region and many call it a tall order to construct one lakh affordable houses annually.

“I find such things remain just a dream and the main culprit is the government,” said Pankaj Kapoor, Managing Director, Liasas Foras, a leading real estate research firm.

He said it was unfair to blame the developers as across the world it is the government that offers land to house the poor unlike in India where land is auctioned to the highest bidder. “It is sad to see MMRDA and NTC more interested in the valuation of the land than offering houses to the marginalized sections,” said Kapoor.

Sunil Mantri, President (Elect) MCHI, says: “Builders should now focus on the affordable housing segment.”

He said that there is an immediate demand for 1.4 million houses of which 80 percent are in the range of Rs 3-5 lakh, which should now be a target for the developers.

Other demands included release of land by the government, more Floor Space Index as well as easy availability of micro finance.