Sky-high real estate prices that have taken homes beyond the reach of the common man have made the state government contemplate a law to make construction of affordable houses in the city mandatory.
Minister of State for Housing Sachin Ahir on Friday said the government could be forced to introduce a legislation for construction of affordable houses if private builders don’t start constructing affordable houses.
“We have asked builders to create affordable houses. Failure to do so could force us to bring in a legislation and control property rates,” Ahir said. The state’s housing policy of 2007 had made a reservation of 20 per cent for affordable housing in all projects mandatory.
Affordable housing has so far been optional for builders. The state government provides affordable houses through agencies such as the Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority and City and Industrial Development Corporation. It has been offering incentives to builders for building affordable houses but it is getting response only in areas out of Mumbai city.
Builders and developers with projects in Mumbai have been pointing out that the cost of housing has been high due to unusually high land prices. They have even offered to build affordable houses if the government gives them land at concessional rates.
The government is also planning to table the Maharashtra Housing Regulatory Commission Bill in the upcoming monsoon session of the Legislature. “We are planning to set up a regulatory authority for housing. Hopefully, we will be able to initiate the process in the monsoon session,” Ahir said.
The state has been working on the Bill for at least 18 months. “Once the regulator is set up buyers will have an authentic legal mechanism, which will ensure that buyers are charged on carpet area basis and are not fleeced,” Ahir said.
Ahir also said the government will amend the Maharashtra Region and Town Planning Act to mitigate the effects of the Bombay High Court striking down a government notification charging premium on extra floor space index (FSI) of 0.33 in the suburbs. “The order will have effects on limiting housing stock and raising prices which the government doesn’t want,” Ahir said.