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Scarcity of affordable housing in Mumbai

Mumbai is known as the financial capital of India and the city contributes more than 35 per cent to the nation’s GDP. The city is growing at a rapid pace and is expanding towards the north areas. The manner in which the metropolis is growing is already become a cause of concern for the town planners. Urban planners did not properly design the island city as is the case with other island-cities like New York City’s Manhattan borough. Mumbai’s poor land management has limited its growth, which, with an exploding population, is becoming an even more pressing issue.

Since there is scarcity of affordable land in Mumbai hence it has become difficult for the common man to purchase house in the metropolis. As a result of this, many people have to shift and buy home on the outskirts of the city like Vasai, Virar, Kalyan, Dombivali, Mumbra, Kalwa, Bhiwandi, Ambivali etc. Today people are even willing to go beyond Virar and settle in areas like Palghar, Boisar as the suburban services has started functioning in these areas.

Since real estate rates are cheaper in these far flung suburbs as compared to Mumbai, people choose to buy home there. Even though they purchase home but commuting to the city becomes a nightmare for them due to overcrowded suburban trains. There is lesser frequency of local trains towards these areas as travelling becomes extensively difficult for them especially during the peak hours. Even though land is available in the city but it either exists on salt pan land or mangroves where construction is barred due to ecological reasons.

Experts have often spoken about devising affordable homes for the middle class and poor but very little has been done in this regard. Thus we can see uneven development happening in the metropolis as slums have mushroomed at every nook and corner of the city. It even exists in the upmarket locations of Mumbai. The city’s outdated real estate laws have been blamed for the skyrocketing land prices. Land is concentrated in the hands of businessmen, builders, corporate who then construct luxury apartments and sell the same to buyers at premium rates. There are a lot of economic, regulatory and urban issues which need to be looked into for ensuring that there is enough affordable housing inventory to meet the demand.

The government must work on the PSU and PPP model. In the PSU model, the government remains the owner of the land and can take advantage of all future FSI benefits through redevelopment. As the land is already owned by the government and is lying idle, only the cost of construction needs to be funded. For developers constructing in far-flung suburbs, the government must develop civic infrastructure and ensure better connectivity through roads and railways, as this will lead to an influx of people.

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