Maharashtra government’s ambitious plan to create five lakh affordable housing in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region is in trouble with the environment panel rejecting several mega rental and affordable housing projects. In a meeting held this month, the state's expert appraisal committee (SEAC), the first tier in granting environmental nod to big construction projects, refused to approve two mega rental housing projects proposed in Panvel. It also passed strictures against a third project being developed in Thane.
The two rejected projects are of Diana Infrastructure Ltd and Arihant Abode Ltd spread across 44 acres in Panvel. The Diana Infrastructure project is planned over 28 acres, envisages construction of 6,141 affordable flats. The project include 18 buildings with 3,130 flats for sale along with 11 rental or affordable housing buildings with 6,141 affordable flats. Arihant Abode's project is worth Rs 361 crore, which proposed construction of 25 buildings over 16 acres.
Stricture were passed In case of the project named Auralis by Deep Homes and Construction Pvt Ltd. The panel recommended action against the project for demolishing existing structures without getting the green clearance. The panel has also demanded that the developers bring down the existing density of 2,250 tenements per hectare to 1,000 per hectare. Also, the height of the buildings should be reduced as per the Union government norms in absence of a mandatory fire station within a 2-km radius.
These projects can appeal against the order to the SEIAA. However, both authorities have gone slow on rental housing projects. Of the 38 projects cleared so far, only two have been granted a green clearance.
Earlier, the chairman of the State Environment Impact Assessment Authority (SEIAA), the second tier or the final environment body, had asked the state to review this policy as it was creating vertical slums.
The Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA), which scripted the policy to allot 160 sq feet rental homes to urban poor has now termed it as an affordable housing project and increased the size of the flats to 300 sq feet.
But, many of the core concerns like absence of basic infrastructure and density of flats in the affordable housing buildings, have not been addressed.