Mumbai Affordable Homes Not So Affordable: Dream To Remain A Dream
Mumbai, the world’s second-most crowded city, plans to unlock 25 square kilometres, or as big as at least 1,780 cricket fields, to build a million so-called Mumbai affordable homes over two decades. It will use the land so far barred from development, including salt pans along parts of its coastline.
For those who earn Rs 30,000 a month, that means nothing because what qualifies as affordable depends on who you ask. An average one-bedroom apartment in the areas the Maharashtra government has identified for releasing land costs at least Rs 70 lakh, according to listings on property portal 99acres.com.
To be sure, Prime Minister’s affordable housing scheme considers anyone with an income of up to Rs 18 lakh a year eligible for interest subsidy. To find a home in that income, a buyer will have to travel north into the extended suburbs outside the city limits. It’s unlikely to benefit anyone in tier 1 cities like Mumbai.
The claim of Mumbai affordable homes is just an eyewash because if we calculate, less than 1 lakh [100,000] units will be available for the poor as they cannot afford big homes.
Unsold homes in the Mumbai region including the satellite cities of Navi Mumbai and Thane rose to their highest at 3.5 lakh till August last year, according to a report by property consultant Propstack and Cushman & Wakefield. The number has since been declining slowly as sales have just started picking up after a lull of nearly a year and a half. The cash purge and a new Real Estate Regulation Act to protect buyers had left developers cash-starved.
Most of the inventory is neither ready-to-move nor affordable, said Nahar Group, a Mumbai-based developer. More land will allow more houses to come up, easing prices, she said. It will boost the affordable segment.
Salt pans are low-lying areas that are floodplains where rainwater is harvested. Once their height is raised, water will start collecting in the city. This entire exercise is lack of planning and done only to suit a few builders who have been lobbying for this from the last 20 years.
Anarock Property Consultants too pointed out the potential drawbacks of development on salt pans. They not only provide thousands of salt harvesters a livelihood but also help maintain ecological balance by supporting thousands of species of migratory birds and fish, head of research at the firm, wrote in a note. With their mangroves, salt pans act as a buffer that protects the island city from heavy rains and floods during monsoon, he said.
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