The Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (Mhada) has announced plans to build hundreds of thousands of low-cost, affordable homes in the state. If it succeeds, it will go a long way in helping provide housing for all. But will the agency really be able to deliver or will this remain a plan on paper?
1.6 lakh Low-Cost Homes In 10 Years
Mhada is building these homes under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY) and expects to complete it in 10 years. The agency has already identified 450 hectares of land in Thane, Raigad and Boisar to build these homes.
“We are launching about 1.1 lakh houses on government lands in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR) and that proposal is at the final stage. In the rest of Maharashtra, we plan on launching another 50 thousand houses so a total of 1.6 lakh houses will be built in this financial year” says SS Zende, vice president & CEO of MHADA
The agency says these homes will be targeted exclusively at the economically weaker (EWS) and low-income group (LIG) sections of the society, with prices averaging 10 lakh rupees.
“We have our own funds and the government of India is offering Rs 1.5 lakh as subsidy. The government of Maharashtra is offering another Rs 1 lakh as the state’s share. So for these houses which may cost around Rs 10 lakh, Rs 2.5 lakh will come from government sources. The rest we will have to take from the beneficiary.” says SS Zende.
Will Mhada Be Able to Deliver?
While those are impressive sounding numbers, they are in sharp contrast to the recent state economic survey which showed that the agency had only been able to construct 772 units in 2015-16, a sharp reduction from the 3,608 units it built in 2014-15 and the 7,424 units it built in 2013-14. Former Mhada chief Chandrashekhar Prabhu claims that this casts doubts on the agency’s ability to deliver and places the blame on a lack of accountability.
“Mhada’s affordable housing scheme will be in direct combination with projects being built by private builders. The politicians are always under pressure from the builders and that’s why Mhada may not have built it. If the government is seriously concerned about affordable housing, it will set targets for Mhada and if those targets are not met, the officials concerned must be severely punished.” says Chandrashekhar Prabhu.
RERA To the Rescue
That is important as most of the identified regions for the scheme will benefit with large affordable townships coming up here, which in turn will spur further development. So how can we ensure that Mhada sticks to its promise? The answer lies in the Real Estate Regulatory Authority or RERA.
“Once the projects are coming into the market and buyers are buying homes, even Mhada will have to be covered under RERA. This will ensure that there is timely delivery, quality and all of the specifications which were promised to the home buyers.” says Gulam Zia, executive director at Knight Frank India.
It has almost become a fad for government agencies and states to declare one affordable housing scheme after another. RERA could help ensure that these government bodies actually walk the talk when it comes to delivering on those impressive-sounding numbers.
Nikhil Narayan Sivadas, Assistant Editor, NDTV