A year on, Maharashtra govt’s towering ‘housing for all’ claim falls flat
A year after the Devendra Fadnavis-led state government adopted the Centre’s ‘housing for all’ mission, setting an ambitious deadline to create 19 lakh affordable houses by 2022, not even a single tenement is ready or even close to completion.
In the first year of implementing the ‘housing for all’ programme, formulated under the Centre’s Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY), the government has approved 43 projects for implementation that can yield 1,15,297 tenements for the economically weaker sections and lower income groups. A majority of these are to come up in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region, where the shortage of affordable housing is the most acute and the Bahratiya Janata Party (BJP)-led state government promised to create 11 lakh low-cost tenements. These are spread across various villages of Virar, Kalyan and Thane.
However, even the number of houses sanctioned on paper is a far cry from the 2.71 lakh houses the government needs to approve and build under the scheme every year to meet its stated aim of 19 lakh units in seven years.
An official from the state housing department said, “These are projects that have got an in-principle approval from the Union government, and for most issues such as getting the possession of land and change in reservations still need to be sorted. It is estimated to take at least 2.5 years more for the tenements to be constructed.”
The Maharashtra government formally adopted the Centre’s PMAY programme in December last year to be implemented in 51 cities across the state. The state government had in May 2015 declared its intention to build 19 lakh affordable housing by 2022 under PMAY, but stopped short of formally notifying the target on paper. Senior bureaucrats admitted that 19 lakh houses may be unrealistic without any other policy intervention. The government can hope to construct at the most 6.5 to 7 lakh tenements under the scheme, they said.
Hoping to speed up construction under PMAY, the government has announced a slew of concessions to government and semi-government agencies which take up such projects. These include land at a nominal price of one rupee per square metre, a 50% concession in land measurement fees, reduced development charges, a lower stamp duty for the first allotment of tenements, etc. The government has also proposed to make more land available for PMAY housing by unlocking no-development zones and agricultural land in smaller cities, referred as the D-Class municipal corporations.
The government has charted out four approaches to provide low-cost housing under PMAY – slum redevelopment on the existing plot, creation of housing stock by public authorities through a developer, beneficiary-led individual housing, and an interest subsidy scheme. Barring the interest subsidy scheme, which is directly administered through banks, the state government overlooks projects under the other three approaches with the Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (MHADA) as the nodal agency. Under PMAY, the Union government provides funding of Rs1.5 lakh for every tenement created under the scheme, while the state government tops it up with another one lakh.
“Most of the houses sanctioned for construction under the scheme are to be constructed by public authorities with MHADA as the developer. Only one PMAY project,in Solapur, has been sanctioned so far under the slum redevelopment approach. There are a few stray cases of beneficiary-led individual housing from the Akola and Amravati districts,” the housing department official said.
The Union government has released Rs371 crore for the construction of 1.15 lakh approved tenements so far, he added.
How the scheme works
Urban local bodies first conduct a demand survey for affordable housing, devise housing schemes and send proposals to the Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (MHADA)
A state-level technical appraisal committee screens the projects, which is followed by a second scrutiny by a chief secretary-led committee before they are sent to the Union housing ministry for clearance
The Union government has approved 43 projects in Maharashtra, most of them in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region, in places such as Bolinj in Virar, Shirdhon, Barave, Khoni and Niljepada in Kalyan,and Goteghar and Bhandarli in Thane, etc.