Sunday, July 14, 2024

Maharashtra Government Reverses Course on Affordable Housing in Special Development Zones

In a recent move, the Maharashtra government has revoked plans for affordable housing in No-Development Zones (NDZs), now referred to as Special Development Zones (SDZs). The state issued a notification reintroducing the low floor space index of 0.025 for NDZs and permitting development such as tourism, educational institutions, ground-plus-one residential structures, and IT parks. The new policy designates only high-density slums as SDZs.

The urban development department’s notification calls for objections and suggestions regarding the remaining Excluded Parts (EPs) of the Development Plan (DP) 2034 covering SDZs. EPs are provisions introduced to the DP for which public input is sought. Former Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray had initially refused to sanction these EPs, expressing environmental concerns for Mumbai. However, the government, under the Eknath Shinde administration, has now decided to eliminate SDZs, except in areas with high-density slums.

Architect Vilas Nagalkar commented that the new notification would restrict construction in NDZs compared to the previous plan, which allowed unrestricted construction, albeit mainly for the redevelopment of slum areas.

Urban researcher Hussain Indorewala noted that the revised notification eliminates the prospect of affordable housing in SDZs, focusing solely on the redevelopment of densely populated slums through the slum rehabilitation scheme. This shift raises questions about the government’s reassessment of the supply and demand for affordable housing.

Concerns were raised about the absence of civic infrastructure on these lands, possibly contributing to the lack of interest among builders in the affordable housing scheme. Indorewala emphasized the need for clarity on the government’s vision for tourism and IT park zones, suggesting a focus on commercial infrastructure rather than essential amenities for citizens. He urged the government to explore options outside Mumbai for tourism development and IT parks.

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