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The great Mumbai flat race

Amid several low-flung government buildings in Magathane in Borivli (E) rises an empty unpainted and unprepossessing 14-storey building. Prachi Pinglay reports.

mumbai Updated: Apr 24, 2011 00:48 IST
Prachi Pinglay

Amid several low-flung government buildings in Magathane in Borivli (E) rises an empty unpainted and unprepossessing 14-storey building. In the street outside is an auto rickshaw stand, women selling fish and a civic garden with hawkers selling toys and other knick-knacks.

This week lakhs of Mumbaiites will vie with one another for flats in this building that the Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority will put on sale, among others, starting on Wednesday in its first online lottery.

“I have applied several times for Mhada flats because even after working for so many years I cannot afford to buy anything in private projects,” said Shyamrao Bhoite, 46, who works in the administration department of the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre and lives in staff quarters with his wife and two children.

The flats in the Magathane building are among the 4,034 subsidised ones that Mhada announced last week that it would sell this time.

The flats in this building are for people in the high-income group, which Mhada defines as those who earn more than Rs 40,000 a month. The price of these flats are roughly two-thirds of those in private projects in the area, where the rate is about Rs 7,000 a square foot. The area is popular because it is close to Borivli railway station — a 15-minute auto ride away in easy traffic conditions.

“It is becoming impossible for middle-class people to buy new flats in this area,” said Rohit Kulkarni, a resident of the area. In Mhada’s lottery last year, 4.5 lakh people applied for 3,449 flats. This time, officials expect more than 5 lakh applications.

For the first time, Mhada will accept forms online, which citizens believe will make the allotments more efficient and transparent.