Even as the first set of 1,500 houses for the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority’s (MMRDA) ambitious rental housing project is set to be ready in the next two months after a long delay, the development authority is still clueless about how to allocate these units.
The MMRDA still lacks clarity on whether to let these houses out on a rental basis as planned or to sell most as affordable housing units and hand over the rest to various government departments and urban local bodies. If houses are to be sold at affordable rates instead of being rented out, there is no clarity on whether the MMRDA should resort to a lottery system or sell them in the open market.
“Till we decide on how to allocate the houses and actually finish the distribution, the MMRDA will have to take responsibility for these houses, pay for their maintenance, water and electricity and security, which is unnecessarily going to be a costly affair,” said Anil Wankhede, Deputy Metropolitan Commissioner and in charge of MMRDA’s lands cell.
The 1,500 houses have been constructed by the Dosti Group on Pokharan Road in Thane and would be handed over to the MMRDA in June. “We are still awaiting the state government’s nod on the changes a committee constituted to review the rental housing scheme had proposed. Till we get a go-ahead, we can’t decide on how to allocate these tenements,” said Uma Adusumilli, chief of MMRDA’s rental housing cell.
The rental housing scheme was launched in 2008 to check the proliferation of slums in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region with the construction of 160 square feet houses with rentals ranging from Rs 800 to Rs 1,400. The MMRDA had set a target of having five lakh units ready in five years. However, nearly four years later, only 1,500 houses will be ready.
Earlier, a committee under the chairmanship of Metropolitan Commissioner Rahul Asthana had submitted recommendations to the state government, suggesting the nature of the project be changed to affordable housing and just 15 per cent of the total lot be let out on rent. A certain percentage, between 15 to 25, could be given to different urban local bodies and another 10 per cent could be given on sale to government institutions so that they can let out the tenements to their employees. “There has been a delay in giving an approval to the recommendations due to the Assembly session.We hope to hear from the state soon,” Asthana said.