Tuesday, 15 November 2016

Builders gyp MHADA of 5,000 flats in island city

Based on the revelation, the activist who posed the RTI query pegs the loss at Rs 14,000 crore

Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (MHADA) has not received around 5,000 flats from private builders since 2006, reveals a reply to a query raised under Right to Information (RTI) Act.

To an RTI application by social activist Kamlakar Shenoy, the housing authority has admitted that in 266 cases it is yet to receive flats with a cumulative area of 1.05 lakh sq m in the island city. Shenoy estimates the claims value of these flats to be nearly Rs14,000 crore.

The issue pertains to redevelopment of the cessed buildings in the island city. The cessed buildings are mostly those buildings which were built in the first half of the last century and whose rents are protected under Rent Control Act. As rents were frozen, owners lost interest in maintaining these buildings.Subsequently, these buildings were handed over to MHADA for repairs and maintenance, and in return, MHADA collects cess on rent from tenants of these buildings.

There were 22,000 such buildings in the island city (between Colaba and Nariman Point in the south and Mahim and Sion in the north of Mumbai); of these, around 2,000 were redeveloped by MHADA and 4,000 by private developers.

The private builders get extra FSI for redeveloping these buildings and have to share the excess FSI awarded to them with MHADA and hand over a pre-decided percentage of constructed flats to MHADA free of cost. In 29 cases, FIRs were registered by MHADA in various police stations against builders for selling these flats without handing them over to it. However, in none of the cases has MHADA initiated civil proceedings to take these flats back from builders, Shenoy pointed out.

Considering the rate of real estate in island city is between Rs 40,000 and Rs 50,000 per sq ft, the total amount locked in these flats is around Rs 14,000 crore.

Housing rights activist and convenor of Ghar Bachao Andolan, Simpreet Singh, said, “Considering this government has given the slogan `Housing For All by 2022', it is its duty to recover flats which are due to MHADA and allot them to economically weaker sections of the society.“

In response to text message, MHADA CEO Sambhaji Zende said that he was out of station and will be available for comment only on Thursday.