12 years on, GMADA to build homes for the poor
Finally, after 12 years of notifying the policy for construction of houses for economically weaker section (EWS) category, Greater Mohali Area Development Authority (GMADA) is all set to begin constructing houses on their own by the end of December this year. The house will be sold to the poor at Rs 10 lakh per house. Earlier the houses were to be built by private builders, but they were not serious, following which a decision was taken in 2013, that GMADA would build the houses.
In the first stage, GMADA will build 5,000 houses in four of its townships on about 54 acres of land— on 13.49 acres in Aerocity , on 17.48 acres in IT city, on 3.60 acres in ECO-City-1 and on 20.17 acres in Eco–City-11. As many as 7 houses will be built with four floors including the ground floor on about one acre of land.
A senior GMADA official involved in the project admitted that the venture was delayed as some private builders had not given land meant for EWS housing to the government. “But now we have got 230 acres registered with GMADA from 46 private builders. First we will begin construction in our own townships and will begin with 5,000 flats in December.”
The aim is to initially construct a total of 22,000 houses, he said further. “The rest of the construction will begin after the first 5,000 flats have been built. For allotment of houses, we are framing a policy that should be done by end of this month,” the officer added.
In a 2008 cabinet meeting, the Punjab housing and habitat policy approved the policy to construct EWS houses but most builders shirked the responsibility. Thereupon, GMADA took possession of the land earmarked for EWS houses from private builders. Currently, GMADA has 25 mega projects and more than 100 approved colonies under its ambit.
Later in its 2013 notification, the housing and urban development department had told PUDA and other development authorities, that if builders approved by PUDA fail to give make houses for the EWS category, they should transfer the land to the government.
Earlier, the state government had made it mandatory for builders to set aside 10% area under residential plots or 10% of total number of flats in their projects to build housing for EWS, under Punjab Apartment and Property Regulation Act (PAPRA), 1995. In the case of mega projects, 5% of the gross area of the project is required to be earmarked for affordable housing for weaker sections of society. However, no builder deliberated on the task of developing affordable houses, citing high cost of land in the state.
Social activist Satnam Singh Daun, who fought for the rights of EWS category candidates said it was unfortunate that it took 12 years for authorities to begin building houses for the poor, and accused GMADA to be hand-in-glove with private builders. “Now, I urge the concerned authority to also expedite the policy for allotment of houses,” he said.