— Sachin Ahir, Minister of State for Housing, Government of Maharashtra
discusses Maharashtra's housing scenario and his
government's future plans for the real estate sector in an exclusive interview
with Sandeep Menezes
Can you tell us about the
initiative to set up a new housing
It has been introduced in the
legislative council and assembly
in the recent budget session and
has been sent to the joint select
committee. Now the scrutiny is
going on and the joint select
committee will give its view and
come up with suggestions.
We are hoping that the issue
will be taken up in the coming
monsoon session and hopefully
it will be passed.
The real estate industry feels that
the housing regulator will be an
additional regulatory body that
would mean more clearances?
I think they are forgetting one
thing, that MOFA (Maharashtra
Ownership of Flats Act)
already existed, and secondly,
if they are not doing anything
wrong then why are they worried.
This regulator is especially
for those who do wrong and
some provisions of MOFA take
long and lengthy time. Therefore,
cases can be expedited
and immediate justice can be
given to the people.
There is currently a huge shortage
of housing, especially at
the lower end of the pyramid.
What are your government's
initiatives to provide affordable
housing to people?
In future, wherever major housing
clusters are created, we are
making it compulsory that
around 20 per cent is kept aside
for the economically weaker section,
lower income group or middle
income group. This rule is
expected to create more housing
in the affordable segment.
To ensure affordable housing,
is the government also looking
to set up new satellite townships
on the lines on Navi
Mumbai, across Maharashtra?
Yes, we have such initiatives in
mind. That's the reason why we
have started such initiatives in
Vasai, Virar and Bhayander; in
addition, other central housing
schemes are also happening.
But it will take some time
because whatever decisions
have been taken in the past
three to four years, you will see
better changes happening in the
next two to three years.
New townships can be created
but what about the supporting
Obviously, when new townships
are built, the supporting infrastructure
also needs to be created.
Navi Mumbai, Mira
Bhayander, Thane etc. were all
such initiatives. But these initiatives
are not just happening near
Mumbai. In fact, MHADA has
started developing New Chandrapur
near Chandrapur in Vidharba
region where we have
spent more than `175 crore on
water, roads and other supporting
when we talk of townships,
infrastructure is part of it.
What is the current status of the
rental housing scheme?
The rental housing scheme is
going on properly and around
30,000 to 40,000 housing stock
is on the verge of being created.
More that one lakh units will be
created in the next five years.
Interest rates were at their peak
till some time back. Now with
interest rates softening, do you
see housing sales increasing?
Obviously, this will happen. I
think people will look at buying
homes now because there is
already public perception with
regard to declining prices or
prices actually declining.
Currently, MHADA's land
bank, especially in urban centres
like Mumbai, is low. Is
there a plan to create additional
You have to understand that in
new housing projects around 20
per cent area will be given to
MHADA which will then sell
them for affordable housing.
We have also put a new clause
which says that instead of taking
a premium we are going to ask
the developer to give a portion of
the land by way of premium;
therefore, the developers will
have to construct that particular
portion and give it to us.
Third is the option of joint ventures
with private builders
where we get an area of onethird
stock, especially in cities.
A fourth option is to give more
FSI to the suburbs.
In new urban areas, we are
open to the idea of joint ventures
and even purchasing
land if needed.
According to real estate bodies,
around 40 per cent of housing
cost comprises cost incurred on
various clearances and time
overrun in getting approvals.
The real estate industry need
not beat around the bush and
come out openly. There may be
some loopholes but if they are
ready to discuss them, I am
willing to assist them.
What is the state government's
long-term housing policy?
One needs to understand that
policies can be declared but
implementing those policies is a
big task. People need to understand
the psychology of development
- there needs to be a
humane face to it. There are
always two sides to everything:
when we undertake major demolition,
they criticise us and
when we don't undertake demolition,
then also there is criticism.
We have a vision and we
are implementing it slowly and
steadily. You will see the results
in a few years.