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Slum housing on fast track in Mumbai; Government to set up stress fund

sandhya@khaleejtimes.com Filed on July 9, 2020
The government stress fund will revive such stuck projects and benefit slum dwellers as well as help developers. - Reuters

Various premiums related to slum redevelopment projects have been relaxed by way of reductions and deferred payments.

The Maharashtra State Housing Ministry announced on Thursday a series of relaxations in its slum redevelopment policy to ensure faster availability of housing for slum dwellers in Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR).

Addressing a web press meet on Thursday, State Housing Minister Jitendra Awhad announced that various premiums related to slum redevelopment projects have been relaxed by way of reductions and deferred payments.

Along with the premium relaxations, the approvals timeline has been drastically reduced at all stages by Slum Rehabilitation Authority (SRA), which is the nodal agency under the Housing Ministry to implement the slum redevelopment scheme.

Reduction in approval timeline 
Stating that the relaxation in various SRA premiums and reduction in approval timeline are targeted to achieve a slum-free Mumbai at the earliest, he added that the new premium structure would also ensure clubbing of SRA projects in city zones which were stalled owing to non-feasibility factor.

He further stated that the revised timeline of the approvals structure at various stages including LOI would result in more than 50 per cent reduction in timeline compared to the previous timeline practiced by SRA.

Along with the relaxation in premiums and timeline, all SRA projects would be empowered with health centres; authorised committee to relocate religious structures within the project; online approval (auto DCPR) mechanism like MCGM and committed continuity in construction of rehabilitation buildings which can only be stopped by specific high court orders.

Highlighting the key purpose of the current relaxations in SRA guidelines, Awhad remarked that the latest relaxations is an outcome of series of discussions with all stakeholders, post suggestions and objections, which has been further pushed by the current Covid-19 pandemic environment in MMR.

"The state decision to push SRA development is also keeping in view the city's readiness to tackle any future pandemics such as Covid-19. As we continue to battle the Covid-19 virus, Mumbai has witnessed an alarming ratio of Covid-19 cases across the slums and a proper housing environment will be the key to safeguard lives and prevent any community spread of such diseases going forward," added Awhad.

The series of measures undertaken by SRA has also capped the rental amount structure, during the rehabilitation phase to Rs12,000 and Rs10,000 per month in the city and suburb zones respectively. While for the extended suburbs which come under the MMR region the government has capped rental structure to Rs8000 per month.

As per prevailing policy, applications for IOA was accepted after issuance of LOI but now it will be approved simultaneously and CC issued within 7 days of the application. And the approval of file will be scrutinised at 3 levels only compared to 6 levels previously.

Earlier, the maintenance deposit of Rs40,000 per tenant was payable to the extent of 50 per cent at CC stage and balance at rehab OC stage. This has been relaxed to be payable at OC stage of the rehab building.

The on-going construction of rehab buildings in SRA projects will not be issued stop work order except in cases of specific orders from High Court. Earlier Annexure 3 was required before LOI which is now needed before CC. Whereas project proposals will be accepted in 15 days after relevant NOCs excluding the NOC from the finance department.

Government to set up stress fund
Awhad has stated that there will be a specific stress fund for stuck SRA projects. While the state government will infuse Rs 700-1000 crore, the remaining funds will be from banks like SBI. This stress fund will be used for the completion of stuck projects of SRA.

The government stress fund will revive such stuck projects and benefit slum dwellers as well as help developers. Apart from this, the minister also made a major announcement that will bring cheer to developers troubled by non-cooperative slum dwellers.

"On non-cooperative slum dwellers towards who stall the projects the government has ensured the with the help of government machinery under SRA, the authority will ensure slum dwellers vacate the land under development, once the developer has cleared 70 per cent of shanties and is facing problem with the remaining non cooperative slum dwellers," said Awhad.

This measure will help those developers who face the problem of non-cooperative tenants in spite of 70 per cent consent.

Bhushan Nemlekar, director of Sumit Woods Ltd, a company that is into SRA developments said: "The announcement made by the Government and minister of housing on stress fund allocation is a positive step in the right direction for the SRA projects of Mumbai. This will surely give thrust to SRA development and will see the projects gather at a faster pace and completion soon."

Nonetheless, it was a big relief for the SRA tenants and buyers. Due to the pandemic, Mumbai has seen bigger challenges and this will help to expedite the process of development in Mumbai resulting in a lot of economic activity happening around it.

"We hope to see similar concessions and speedy approval in MHADA redevelopment and society redevelopment by the authorities of MHADA and BMC. Such proactive steps by the Government will boost the real estate sector along with the economy," added Nemlekar.

Under Ease of Doing Business (EODB) the government has even reduced certain procedures. For example a file that would move six tables now will require to go to three officials. Similarly annexure II the list with eligible slum dwellers will now be done by SRA. Earlier it would require three organization, including BMC, Collectorate and SRA.

The government has also decided the rent to be paid to slum dwellers by developers while carrying out a redevelopment project. In Mumbai up to Bandra, the rent will be Rs 12,000 per month. It will be Rs 10,000 per month from Bandra to Andheri/Ghatkopar and Rs 8,000 per month beyond it. SRA has given out a total of 1856 LOIs to various developers for carrying out rehabilitation projects.

A spokesperson from Omkar Realtors & Developers said, "The series of measures and stress fund for SRA announcement by the state housing ministry is a step in the right direction to speed up slum rehabilitation process in the city of Mumbai. The city which has over 50 percent slum population warrants urgent construction and handover of rehab buildings not only to make city slum free but also serve as a major cover for enhanced standards of living and precaution against all pandemics."
- sandhya@khaleejtimes.com

author

Sandhya D'Mello

Journalist. Period. My interests are Economics, Finance and Information Technology. Prior to joining Khaleej Times, I have worked with some leading publications in India, including the Economic Times.


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