Salt pan lands to boost affordable residential supply in Mumbai


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 As affordable housing segment is expected to see a rise in 2017-2018, Mumbai would lead the trend with salt pan lands making way for more land parcels for new construction.

The new Mumbai DP 2034 plan has opened up the use of the salt pan land and will initiate the development of approximately 10 lakh affordable homes, making it one of the biggest additions in utilisable land for housing in Mumbai’s history. The government has released about 3,655 hectares of land falling under 'No Development Zones' or salt pans, out of which 2400 acres, including the 300 acres of salt pans shall be utilised.

Initially, there was a lot of ambiguity with regard to CRZ areas in the 2010 rules, but the 2017 rules cleared it and specifically exclude salt pans from the definition of wetlands.

 As the FSI in suburbs is now at 2.5 for residential areas as compared to 2 earlier, it is a commendable progress for affordable housing. The higher FSI would allow developers to construct more homes on a specified plot as compared to the past. It will lead to a higher potential supply than before.

The creation of open space of 120 hectares at Eastern Waterfront through PPP is in line with improving the per capita open space ratio of Mumbai. This opens Mumbai’s trademark waterfront for development of recreation, retail and entertainment projects and will give rise to re-development of real estate along the corridor, much like what Canary Wharf re-development did for London’s office district. 

 Mainly, the environmentalists believe that the state of excluding the eco-sensitive area from the Wetland rules will prevent endangering them which is actually positive news. Although there are some serious concerns regarding this proposal, the MMRDA and the government has worked on a way to protect it as well as to build affordable homes. Having said that, they are the last open spaces in Mumbai and help the city maintain an ecological balance. Salt pans provide protection against floods and harbor migratory birds and other animals.

 There is barely of 25 acres land, which is 0.5 percent— developable. These pockets are not contiguous but are dispersed in bits and pieces at different locations of the eastern suburbs. Although it is developable, it will take ample amount of time to clear all the legal issues. Some expanses are already encroached by slums and buildings while other plots remain under litigation and title disputes. Until and unless there is a revision in the rules of construction, progress cannot be made on the development front. On the other hand, there are 5400 acres of salt pans in Mumbai, primarily in the east and west regions of Mumbai and most of them have stopped producing salt over a decade ago.

 As GST, demonetization and RERA gave an optimistic reaction from both developers and homebuyers, it also put a hold on unorganized developers. The affordable housing segment is taking a rise in 2017-2018, with Mumbai leading the trend.



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