The suicide of Ankit Jain, a resident of the Mhada flat at Pratiksha Nagar recently allotted to senior bureaucrat Anant Kalse, has once again raised the question of illegal renting of such apartments.
While Maharashtra Housing Area Development Authority (Mhada) rules clearly state that these low-cost flats cannot be sold or rented within five years of their allotment, this is hardly followed.
“For years, these houses have been used for investment purposes depriving the genuine homebuyers,” said Santosh Daundkar, activist, Ghar Banao Ghar Bachao Andolan, an organisation fighting for housing rights. Mhada rates are less than half of that charged by private builders which makes it popular among buyers.
However, Kalse refutes any wrongdoing. “The flat was given on compassionate grounds and not on rent,” he said. “The victim’s father was my friend. Since he needed a house urgently, I allowed him to reside for a few months.”
Kalse said he was staying in the flat for a few months but left it as commuting to Mantralaya during the recent monsoon sessions was difficult.
Mhada claims that its drive against those who default is on. "We conducted a survey and issued show cause notices to those not residing in the alloted flat,” said Vaishali Wagh, chief PRO, Mhada.
In June, the Mhada’s vigilance department released a survey that showed 73% of allotees were not residing in their flats. Of the 996 flats it surveyed, 167 changed hands, 566 were found to be locked and only 163 were occupied by the original owners. “The tenants are forewarned of any such survey and told to lock their houses and go away,” said Mubarak Khan, a former Mhada board member.
“The time has come to evict such people to serve as a lesson to all.”