Mumbai: The Maharashtra government on July 31 decided to extend the Slum Redevelopment Authority scheme across the state. During the meeting, the state decided to push stranded SRA projects by helping developers secure finance from banks and financial institutions. A stock-taking meeting for the SRA projects was held after a gap of five years on July 31 by Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray.
Housing minister Jitendra Awhad informed setting up of a stress fund to help developers will be brought before the state cabinet soon and necessary legal hurdles for SRA projects will be cleared by state. The SRA scheme that was meant to rehouse illegal slum dwellers within the land held by them by private developers in lieu for commercial development rights, was first kick started way back in late 90’s.
Activists have for long been questioning the state’s gestures to bail out private builders on a regular basis rather than state take up housing projects. “The SRA is itself a flawed scheme of bailing out illegal settlers and handing over prime land to private developers. Why can’t the state hand over such land to the people themselves for self-development? And what is the need for a private developer in this scheme? Why can’t the state government develop the housing for slum dwellers itself? This is nothing but a corrupt scheme meant to facilitate the nexus of politicians, bureaucrats and private builders. It’s a failed scheme that the state now wants to take it to other districts of Maharashtra as well,” says Vishwas Utagi, general secretary of Nivara Abhiyaan, Mumbai.
“The SRA scheme was able to build only 1.5 lakh affordable houses in Mumbai between 2000 to 2015, way below the market need for 15 lakh houses, despite favourable market conditions then and generous state subsidies and policies in place,” cited Prasad Shetty, dean of the School of Environmental and Architecture, who has worked extensively on affordable housing.
According to an Anarock Property Consultants report, pandemic has affected sales and many developers were offering unheard-of deals due to pandemic market conditions to clear their inventory. It also said that no fresh launches were expected and thus the prices were expected to harden for now. It also found that the economic compulsions of pandemic-reduced consumption had brought down interest rates to 6.85%, its lowest in decades.
Realtor Sunil Bajaj, who is a lifetime member of the Real Estate Agents Association of India, says that the builders weren’t exactly giving great deals. “There continues to be a trust deficit between the builders and the flat buyers now. People now want to buy only completely ready property with proper documentation like Occupation Certificate (OC) in place. This is very unlike the scene a decade back when there would be frenzy for under-construction bookings. Also, people now are more open to the idea of moving outside the city to satellite towns like Navi Mumbai.”
According to Liases Foras, a real estate research firm, there were 2,91, 211 unsold housing units in Mumbai in the first quarter of 20-21. Union minister for commerce Piyush Goyal had already urged the builders to sell off unsold inventory by reducing prices.