Maharashtra allows industrial land to be put to residential or commercial use; move reminiscent of mills' redevelopment

The Maharashtra government, with an aim to create more affordable housing in the state, has cleared the conversion of industrial zones into residential and commercial ones, reported media outlets.

The new policy allows the government to retain 40 percent of the market cost of the land as a surcharge, according to The Hindu. A 20 percent reservation in the construction area for economically weak sections is also envisioned in the policy. The newspaper also quoted a state industries department officer as saying, "Many industries have migrated, some were shut down due to complaints from the pollution board. We keep receiving proposals from such owners for donation, sale, or rent of such land."

Before 1970, the government had acquired a lot of land under the Land Acquisition Act and given it to companies at very nominal rates, reported The Asian Age. However, over the years, many of these companies have been closed, are partially operational or are in a financial crunch. The policy change will allow a huge chunk of land to be used for housing.

The Indian Express reported that earlier, Maharashtra allowed change of use in case of vacant industrial land only under strict conditions like surrendering five percent built-up tenements to the government for public housing and price regulation for the rest of the housing stock. While officials said that these were anyway sparsely implemented, after the policy change, these conditions won’t be insisted upon any further.

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

The report also mentioned that in April 2017, the government had freed up industrial land where it had played no role in acquisition of lands.

The new policy change is reminiscent of the redevelopment of the textile mills in Mumbai after 1990. The city had 58 mills which occupied nearly 600 acres of land across the city, according to Mumbai Mirror. However, post the collapse of the textile industry, the state government allowed private mill owners to develop their land if they surrendered two-thirds of it for affordable housing and public amenities.

The original idea was not implemented. However, in 2001, an amendment to the Development Control Regulations allowed the owners to keep the portion occupied by mill structures and only the vacant land had to be divided, said the report. Thus the government's share dropped to around 16-20 percent from 66 percent. So, from 166 acres, the city’s share fell below 58 acres.

In 2017, however, the Devendra Fadnavis government had restored the original rule, Hindustan Times reported. This decision would allow the city to gain 130 acres of land which will be evenly split to construct gardens and playgrounds on the one hand and affordable houses on the other. The move was hailed by mill workers unions. The newspaper quoted Datta Iswalkar, who heads the Girni Kamgar Sangharsh Samiti who said,"This move will make more houses available to the mill workers who have worked hard their entire life in these mills."


Updated Date: Jan 04, 2018 15:28 PM

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