Policies for building Affordable Housing in the state of Maharashtra are really effective as compared to other states. Benefit of increased FSI (Floor Space Index) is one of the major benefits. Further, we are providing the land on subsidised cost which ultimately reducing the dwelling unit cost, says Rajendra Mirgane, Joint Chairman, Maharashtra Housing Development Corporation Limited (MahaHousing) in an exclusive interview with Harshal Desai of Elets News Network (ENN).
How do you plan to contribute towards the ‘Housing for All’ mission?
MahaHousing has been established to strengthen the capacity of the Maharashtra to reach the target of building required affordable houses. The state of Maharashtra has an overall target of around 26 lakh houses, and MahaHousing has been entrusted with the responsibility to build five lakh houses by constructing Mega Projects where each such Mega Projects is supposed to have about 5,000 tenements. These houses shall be built in about 87 cities across various municipal corporations and municipal councils.
We have already been allotted land by a couple of authorities across the state where we are now planning to build affordable houses. MahaHousing also has policies to develop private lands by associating with the landowners by forming joint ventures. We have already got two such joint venture projects in Solapur and Pune. We have about 18 to 20 projects in the pipeline in various regions in the state. We have received the proposals, and now we shall be working on them.
I am also happy to inform that under one of its policies, we are now building dedicated projects for Police, Labourers and Home Guards in Solapur, and also for Class Four employees. With all these initiatives, we are quite sure that we will achieve our target of building five lakh houses by 2022.
What are the challenges that you foresee towards achieving the target? How do you plan to address these challenges?
According to me, availability of lands is a one of the challenges. Second, I don’t see wholehearted participation of private developers and builders. This is perhaps the major issue in other states as well. Middle Class, Upper Class and Higher Class families probably have met their need for houses, but lower income group (LIG) and economically weaker section (EWS) – across the country – have major need for affordable houses, and I think, private builders and developers are not willing to build houses for this strata of society. We are, however, devising strategies to convince builders and trying to bring them on board so that LIG and EWS affordable houses projects can get a push.
I am also concerned about the people working in unorganised sector who do not have pay sheets, balance sheet and saving, and due to this, they don’t even get loans from banks and housing finance companies. To some extent, we have taken some steps towards addressing this issue and convinced Saraswat Bank, ICICI and Muthoot Home Finance to provide loans to such people based on their KYC documents. We have received the confirmation from these banks for their willingness to process it as well.
What are your plans to set up Smart Villages?
As you know, in villages, people have very congested houses which are without any proper ventilation, toilets, sanitation and other basic facilities. Smart Village is a concept where we plan to purchase land in the vicinity of such villages and develop proper colonies with all the facilities including rainwater harvesting, solar energy, street lights, roads, gardens for children, etc. We plan to provide these houses to villagers and form their government funded cooperative housing societies as well. We have received many proposals to develop such villages in the state.
How do you rate the current state policies for constructing affordable housing?
Policies for building Affordable Housing in the state of Maharashtra are really effective as compared to other states. Benefit of increased FSI (Floor Space Index) is one of the major benefits. Further, we are providing the land on subsidised cost which ultimately reducing the dwelling unit cost. The stamp duty cost in Maharashtra is just 1,000 rupees, and perhaps it is the only state where developers get this benefit. Registration charges are subsidised to 50 percent.
Maharashtra Government has also announced an additional Rs 2 lakh subsidy (in addition to PMAY Subsidy) for labor class people who are working in the construction industry. Maharashtra is the only state in the country to announce the additional subsidy. Further, for SC and ST beneficiaries are also entitled to get the benefit of Shabari and Ramai Schemes (Rs 1 lakh per beneficiary) in addition to PMAY subsidy. Again, Maharashtra is the only state to offer these benefits to SC and ST people. Maharashtra government has also devised policies to develop green zone in a sustainable way under PMAY scheme.
What about the encouraging innovative models and technologies for developing affordable housing?
Government of Maharashtra has approved about 14 technologies; however, after studying all these technologies, only two of them, namely traditional RCC technology and Aluminium Frame Work Technology have been proved to be effective so far.
Rest of the technologies have some or the other limitations. I feel Aluminium Frame Work Technology is the best, as the construction cost is reduced and the cost also doesn’t go high.
Water and Electricity are some of the required services for Housing and Affordable Housing projects. How do corporations like MahaHousing ensure smooth coordination with these authorities?
If the project is under the periphery of Municipal Corporations and Municipal Councils, water is not an issue as local administration provides it to the project. However, for projects outside this periphery, we need to approach Maharashtra Jeevan Pradhikaran or ensure supply from nearby water resources on our own after due planning. Further, electricity is not an issue at all, and drainage is or can be managed by establishing on-site Sewerage Treatment Plants (STP).
What is your message for the stakeholders?
I will urge builders and developers to pay attention to the lower-income group and economically weaker sections of the society. I will request owners to not only build houses for these sections of society and at the same time win their (people’s) trust. We usually see that builders are not that close to their staff and hardly interact with home buyers. There is a lack of communication between builders and home buyers, especially if the project is in LIG or EWS categories. To bridge this gap, we have devised policies to act as a consultancy firm where we will interact with customers and address their concerns. I also request all the builders and developers to come forward and let us know if they face any issue. We will try our best to address them to the best of our capabilities.