Friday, May 18, 2007

New Housing policy in M'rashtra in one month

Mumbai, May 18: The Maharashtra Chief Minister, Vilasrao Deshmukh has announced that the new housing policy will be implemented by the next month.

It may be recalled that the state government announced a draft housing policy on November 1 last year to mark the two years of Democratic Front in the office.

For some aspects of the policy, like creating a housing regulator which needed consent from state legislature, bill will be introduced in the monsoon session of the state legislature, Deshmukh said.

Deshmukh was speaking to reporters after the meeting of elected representatives from large cities of the state like Mumbai, Pune, Nagpur, Nashik and the other places on the state government's new housing policy.

The housing policy is aimed at making available affordable housing to common man and increasing the housing stock.

First of all we had given two months for citizens to file their suggestions and objections on the policy, subsequently due to the model code of conduct for municipal election and budget session of the state legislature, we could not finalise the policy, the Chief Minister said while justifying the delay in implementing the policy.

The new housing policy will include a single window system for clearing projects. The new policy will give priority to redeveloping old and dilapidated buildings and ensure the rights of the 'sons of soil', the CM said.

"There will be a separate chapter outlining a time-bound program for redeveloping such buildings in the new policy," he added.

"We will ensure that the sons of the soil — the original inhabitants — get their home. Why should they be left in a limbo, when slum dwellers get a house despite coming to the city years later," he said.

City legislators had earlier voiced their grievance at the slow pace of redeveloping the 16,000-odd old and dilapidated buildings.

The government reassured that redevelopment of such buildings will be given priority.

However, Deshmukh voiced its helplessness saying the Supreme Court is yet to give its order on a petition on Development Control Rule 33 (7) which was framed by the state to redevelop old buildings.

The state will set up a regulatory commission under the new housing policy which will decide on the cost of flat in a particular area. The commission will be a quasi-judiciary authority which will function on the same lines as the Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission. The Housing Regulatory Commission will be the first such body to control property prices to be set up in the country.

Deshmukh has ruled out broad changes in the draft policy which was declared on November 1, 2006.

"The final policy won't be much different from the draft. There could be some changes, but the spirit of the policy to increase housing stock and facilitate affordable housing for the lower- and middle-income groups would be retained," Deshmukh said.

A significant addition to the draft policy would be a chapter on redevelopment of old housing colonies and buildings in the island city.

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