Mhada now needs housing department's nod to redevelop plots over 5,000 sq ft

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The Maharashtra Housing Area Development Authority (Mhada) will now need an approval of the state housing department for every redevelopment on its 5,000-plus sqft plots. A circular issued on Monday said Mhada and its Slum Improvement Board, that is responsible for utilisation of MP and MLA funds, will need state government approval to carry out any development work.


Recently, the housing department has issued many government resolutions requiring Mhada to clear projects with it before issuing the NOC and Letter of Intent for redevelopment of buildings on Mhada properties. The circular now specifies plot sizes.


Mhada has 104 residential layouts in the city with vast open spaces that are encroached or taken over under the guise of improvement by trusts connected to elected representatives. Many MPs and MLAs often use their local area development funds to build a community hall, gymnasium and such amenities. They ensure that these are leased to their trusts which typically turn them into private enterprises, denying ordinary citizens access to the open spaces, said sources.


“The government has learnt from the redevelopment of Patra chawl, a 47 acre Mhada layout in Goregaon that is stalled for 22 years. The developer sold parcels of Mhada land to nine developers and original residents are still to get homes,” said officials. The circular says that in many redevelopment cases, the government can’t do a thing when it gets complaints from residents as it has no control on such projects.


However, observers said the decision may not yield better management or transparency. “It is true there are scams happening under Mhada’s watch, but this is government trying to micromanage. It could have appointed its representatives to Mhada board and sought monthly reports,” said a source. An architect said, on anonymity, that they would now need to approach Mantralaya for every issue.

Mhada ex-president and housing activist Chandrashekar Prabhu said no decisions are taken by Mhada without government’s nod. “The housing secretary and other bureaucrats are members of the Mhada board. Mhada authority does not approve anything without the housing secretary’s consent. The happenings in Patra chawl were always known to the then government,” he said.