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Will The Salt Pan Land Announcement Meet the Challenge of a Slum-Free Mumbai by 2022?’: Niranjan Hiranandani

The Maharashtra Government has appointed a committee to supervise a plan for optimum utilisation of salt pan lands in Mumbai. The salt pan lands in the city and the suburbs will be used for building affordable houses and civic amenities, such as open spaces. “Any good move on part of the state government is welcome,” said Niranjan Hiranandani, MD, Hiranandani Communities. “The fact that the master plan will consider the possibility of housing projects, to build affordable houses for people, on areas that are not ecologically sensitive is also welcome. Beyond the positive aspect, my thoughts are on whether this will help meet the challenge of a slum-free Mumbai by 2022,” he added.

“If one looks at the past decade, the story of Mumbai’s real estate has largely, remained constant: high demand for affordable homes, not enough support in form of restrictive rules and regulations, zoning and permissible FSI norms, excessive time taken for permissions and clearances. I have always felt that the powers that be, from the Centre to the State and the Local Self Bodies – not to forget bodies like Environment Clearance, or the DGCA for height clearance of structures from a flight path perspective – were more of ‘regulators’ than ‘facilitators’,’ explained Niranjan Hiranandani.

This has always resulted in directly impacting land availability for real estate development, he said. “To give just one example, salt pan lands in suburban areas, if allowed change in usage, can be used for creation of low cost housing for LIG and EWC segments. This is why appointment of a committee to supervise a plan for optimum utilisation of salt pan lands in Mumbai is welcome. The question is: will it help in meeting the challenge of a ‘slum free Mumbai by 2022’?” asked Niranjan Hiranandani.

“It definitely has the potential to impact availability of land for real estate development, but just by itself it may not be enough. The new policies that have been talked about, and discussed; be it the new housing policy for Maharashtra or new norms from the BMC, or even schemes like ‘100 smart cities’ and ‘housing for all’, these should have a positive impact on land availability and usage for real estate in Mumbai,” he added.

How will salt pan lands in the city and the suburbs being used for building affordable houses impact Mumbai’s real estate? “The answer is simple,” said Niranjan Hiranandani. “If implemented properly and in a time-bound manner, things will work out better. But, it needs to be supplemented with other ‘positives’, such as infrastructure projects and policy decisions which will help make it a reality,” he added.

“So, the decision on salt pan lands has the potential for not just enhancing the availability of land for real estate development, but it needs support in form of infrastructure development to create the possibility of Mumbai’s LIG and EWC segment of home seekers finally getting their dream homes become a reality,” he concluded.

Photo Caption: Niranjan Hiranandani, MD, Hiranandani Communities

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