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Dream of affordable homes gathers dust in Maharashtra

Maharashtra,Business/Economy, Wed, 25 Apr 2012 IANS

Mumbai, April 25 (IANS) An ambitious plan to construct 500,000 affordable homes in Mumbai, Thane and Raigad districts of Maharashtra is gathering dust due to "inaction and policy paralysis" on the part of the state government, a top realtors' body alleged here Wednesday.


The plan, jointly mooted by the Maharashtra Chamber of Housing Industry (MCHI) and the Confederation of Real Estate Developers' Associations of India (CREDAI), was submitted to the state government two years ago to bridge the gap between housing demand and supply and rein in realty prices.


"Even as housing cost is skyrocketing in Mumbai, the plan to construct 500,000 affordable flats as part of the realty industry and state government's initiative, 'Homes For All' gathers dust," MCHI-CREDAI president Paras Gundecha said here.


The realty industry's frustration came on the eve of the 'second anniversary of inaction' of signing the MoU with the state government (April 28, 2010) to find solutions to the burning problems of housing and arrest proliferation of slums in the country's commercial capital.


Realtors demanded a single-window clearance system for all housing proposals so as to expedite the projects.


"All that we wanted was a single-window clearance for all housing proposals to expedite the projects which get bogged down in official delays and red-tapism. All officials agree, but there is no action on this," said Gundecha.


Another office-bearer of the housing body alleged that "not a single file pertaining to building proposals" has moved ahead in the past 18 months or so, and this adds to nearly two years' delays on such projects.


A top government official, however, denied the accusations.


According to Gundecha, "A kind of policy paralysis" has gripped the Mumbai realty sector.


"On one hand, proposals are not being cleared leading to short supply of housing stock, on the other it has become fashionable to blame developers for the increasing cost of property. With barely any new project being cleared, market forces operate to create price imbalances," he said.


On the 'Homes For All' proposals, Gundecha pointed out that the government assured all help including legislative revamp, incentives to developers and authorising a nodal agency for a single-window clearance.


"But not a single paper moved after that, despite the MCHI-CREDAI reminders and meetings at various levels," he lamented.


Consequently, the dream of millions of commonersfor owning an affordable home in Mumbai remained on paper, though Maharashtra could have created history with this unique public-private initiative, he said.


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