MUMBAI: In a decision that will give a major push to the state government’s plan to open up salt pan land for affordable housing, the western zonal council headed by Union home minister Rajnath Singh has asked for a masterplan to be submitted for further approval.
The Maharashtra government has for years been planning to open up land belonging to the central government, including salt pan land and surplus land belonging to the Mumbai Port Trust and Railways for rehabilitating slum-dwellers. After Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced his flagship scheme of housing for all by 2022, the demand was revived by the state, which set itself a formidable target of 18 lakh affordable houses. The issue was discussed at Friday’s meeting, which was also attended by chief minister Devendra Fadnavis. The inter-state council is a committee of states and Union Territories in the western zone to resolve issues related to all of them.
The state government has told the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) to carry out a survey and give details of salt pan land in Mumbai city and its adjoining areas.
“In areas like Mumbai, availability of land is a major constraint for affordable housing. To meet the target set for the housing for all policy, we will have to look at opening up such surplus land. A factual survey of the availability of land and its usability will done,” said chief secretary Swadheen Kshatriya. Under the housing scheme, the government plans to build 1.41 lakh homes in Mumbai in the first phase. A total of 2,177 hectares of salt pan land is available in Mumbai, of which only 430 hectares can be developed; 260 hectares is required for low-cost housing.
A factual report detailing how much area is under the coastal regulation zone (CRZ), under wetland rules, under mangroves and riddled with encroachments will be done. The report will be submitted to the department of industry policy and promotion (DIPP), and then to the Union cabinet for approval, he added. Activists have been terming the plan as an ecological disaster, saying that constructions on salt pan land will cause destruction as sea water flows into salt marshland according to tides and disperses.
Inter-state council secretary Naini Jayaseelan said senior Railways and Mumbai Port Trust representatives have agreed to identify surplus land available with them and make it available for low-cost housing. “There has always been a demand for allowing low-cost housing on surplus land owned by central government agencies in Maharashtra, but for the first time the agencies have given their consent for a survey and identification of land that can be made available,” said Jayaseelan.
Credits ET Realty