The state government's ambitious rental housing scheme, which aims at creating five lakh homes in the next five years largely at the outskirts of Mumbai, may be scrapped.
The state is now contemplating selling off the flats that have been built under an affordable housing programme to the needy.
“The scheme has evoked a poor response [from builders]. We are looking at various measures through which we can provide affordable houses to the poor,” said Rahul Asthana, metropolitan commissioner.
The rental housing scheme, which was launched by the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) in 2008, was touted as the panacea to the city's housing problem. Under this scheme, 160 sqft flats would be rented out to only bonafide Maharashtrians earning up to Rs5,000 a month for as low as Rs800.
“The proposal has not received adequate response from builders. Moreover, there are operational difficulties as to who will collect the rent and will be able to collect the rent at all. We are looking at alternatives,” said a senior state government official, on condition of anonymity because he is not authorised to speak to the media.
Till date, the MMRDA has given 39 clearances to various builders to construct nearly 2.58 lakh rental houses across the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR). And of these, work has begun only at five places, which means only 11,000 houses will be constructed.
Under the present regulations for rental housing in the MMR region, the government has assured builders an FSI of four provided they reserve an FSI of one for rental housing and hand over those flats for free to the state. This rule was applicable to areas outside Mumbai.
The MMRDA also realised that it would be difficult to monitor, select and collect rent from the tenants.
The scheme was also in trouble with the environment panel.
Dr Asoke Basak, chairperson of the state environment impact assessment authority, a panel that scrutinises all mega infrastructure and construction projects assessing its environmental repercussions, had written to the urban development department to do a rethink on the rental housing policy as it was not sustainable.