Creating more land and freeing spaces such as bus depots, railway land and port land to create economical and affordable housing — these were the two demands put forth to chief minister Prithviraj Chavan on Tuesday by Bombay First, a think tank of a group of citizens and business communities working on the ‘Mumbai Makeover’.
“We discussed the housing issue elaborately — stressing on a slum-free Mumbai and freeing up of land to create affordable and economical housing,” said Narinder Nayar, chairman of the Bombay First group. “We are heading towards a situation where people get jobs in Mumbai, but cannot afford a house. This is bad for the city’s growth.”
Business honchos including Noel Tata of the Tata group, Deepak Parekh of the HDFC group were part of the group that made a presentation to the chief minister.
The group pointed out that only redevelopment would not solve the housing issue. “Huge chunks of land such as the ones occupied by BEST bus depots and railway stations need to be freed up for affordable housing. Several tracts of land are still held up under the land ceiling act, so we suggested that some commission or court be set up to look at these cases. The state has agreed to look into this,” Nayar said.
The group also asked the government to push for cluster development and form a separate authority that would ensure that the scheme is implemented.
Bombay First asked Chavan to form a group of experts, along with business representatives, citizens and NGOs, which would work with the government on these issues.
“There has been no concrete decision on whether a group will take off. The demand was for creating a think tank that will give recommendations on land-related policies,” said housing secretary Gautam Chatterjee, who attended the meeting.