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Mumbai, Maharashtra, India

The National Real Estate Development Council (NAREDCO) Maharashtra, recently organized a Knowledge Seminar in Association with Practicing Engineers, Architects, Town Planners Association (PEATA) India, on the recent Draft Development Plan (DP) & Development Control Regulations (DCR) 2034 published by Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM).

“This Seminar was specifically organized during the suggestion /objection period to deliberate on the details and various aspects of the revised Draft DP and DCR 2034, its implementation challenges and possible implications,” said Niranjan Hiranandani, MD, Hiranandani Communities and Founder and First President, NAREDCO Maharashtra.

During the Seminar, among the topics which came up for discussion was the 642 acres of salt pan land as also NDZ land which lie within Mumbai Municipal Corporation’s limits, which have been proposed in the new Development Plan as location for LIG and EWC housing. “This is a proposal which will not just create homes for the LIG and EWC segments, but also has the potential to begin the process of making Mumbai slum-free,” said Niranjan Hiranandani.

Last year, the Maharashtra Government has appointed a committee to supervise a plan for optimum utilization of salt pan lands in Mumbai; that committee had suggested that the salt pan lands in the city and the suburbs could be used for building affordable houses and civic amenities, such as open spaces. “Any such good move on part of the powers that be, either the Municipal Corporation or the State Government, is welcome,” said Niranjan Hiranandani. “The aspect of the DP looking at 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 that this also has the potential to help meet the challenge of a slum-free Mumbai,” he added.

Media reports suggest the proposal has the potential, considering both, NDZ and salt pan lands, to provide a much needed boost for development of about 1 million affordable housing units. Plus, the unlocking of these lands, on areas that are not ecologically sensitive, has the potential to help develop more social amenities in Mumbai.

“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 the alternative scenario, NDZ and salt pan lands, if allowed change in usage – on areas that are not ecologically sensitive – can be used for creation of low cost housing for LIG and EWC segments. This is why I support the proposal, it has the potential to create positives. Utilization of NDZ and salt pan lands for building homes should be welcomed by Mumbaikars,” said Niranjan Hiranandani.

“Salt Pan and NDZ land have the potential to provide land for real estate development, and if taken in sync with the proposed additional FSI for such projects, this should have a positive impact on making homes available for affordable and budget home seekers in Mumbai,” he added.

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

“So, the proposal on NDZ and salt pan lands has the potential for not just enhancing the availability of land for real estate development, but it also needs support from citizens, as also time-bound 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.

Niranjan Hiranandani is Founder & MD, Hiranandani Group. His recent initiative is Hiranandani Communities. He is the Founder and First President (Maharashtra), National Real Estate Development Council (NAREDCO), which works under the aegis of Ministry of Housing & Urban Poverty Alleviation, Government of India.

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