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Maharashtra forms panel to study plan for 1L homes in Bhandup saltpan

The state government on Tuesday set up a five-member committee of bureaucrats to study the proposal sent by a private developer to construct one lakh affordable houses in the saltpan land in the Bhandup-Kanjurmarg belt.

mumbai Updated: Jun 12, 2019 00:36 IST
Naresh Kamath
Naresh Kamath
Hindustan Times
(Pratik Chorge/HT Photo)

The state government on Tuesday set up a five-member committee of bureaucrats to study the proposal sent by a private developer to construct one lakh affordable houses in the saltpan land in the Bhandup-Kanjurmarg belt.

Shapoorji Pallonji (SP) Group has proposed to develop the ‘Arthur and Jenkins Salt Work’ land under the Central Government’s scheme ‘Housing for All by 2022’ and construct one lakh affordable houses. If the proposal gets a nod, it could be the first instance of saltpan land being opened up for real estate.

Despite several attempts, representatives of the group refused to comment on the development.

The government order said the committee, led by additional chief secretary (finance), will study the proposal and recommend the roadmap for it. The committee will decide on the modalities such as lease conditions, permissible land use, premium to be charged on revamp and if housing stock can be taken as compensation, and decide if the proposal is beneficial for the state government.

The city has saltpan lands in Ghatkopar, Wadala, Turbhe, Wadala, Kanjurmarg, Bhandup, Nahur and Mulund in the eastern suburbs and in Malvani, Dahisar, Mira Bhayander and Virar in the western suburbs of Mumbai. The government is keen on unlocking these plots, with the development plan 2034 too making provisions for it. The DP had earmarked 130 hectares of saltpan land to be used for affordable housing. The city has 2,230 hectares of saltpan land, of which 721 hectares can be developed under the special development zone category, said BMC authorities.

The opening up of saltpan land has been a matter of debate for decades, as the proponents say it will provide respite to the affordable realty sector. Environment activists, however, have termed it disastrous, as these lands act as natural buffers during rains and prevent flooding. “Unlocking of saltpan lands for affordable housing will ease the pressure on real estate development in areas in south Mumbai. Builders can now shift their focus to the suburbs of Malwani, Gorai, Mulund and Jogeshwari,” said Anuj Puri, chairman, ANAROCK Property Consultants. The whole purpose of providing affordable homes will be defeated if the government fails to keep a check on the land mafia.”

“This is just a sophisticated land grab in the guise of affordable housing. We are extinguishing natural sources and creating concrete jungles. This will only make us prone to natural disasters,” said Zoru Bhathena, green activist.

First Published: Jun 12, 2019 00:36 IST