Maharashtra government to help builders in developing SRA projects

MUMBAI: The state government will soon roll out a ‘lien’ scheme in a bid to bail out cash-strapped builders whose Slum Rehabilitation Authority (SRA) projects are stuck due to lack of funds.

Under the scheme, builders who don’t have money to pay premiums and development charges can lien flats from their sale components and move ahead with construction. Once the buildings are ready, the builders can sell the flats and pay their dues. If they fail to do so, then the SRA will auction the flats and recover the dues.

The plan was floated at a meeting headed by Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Monday, when he reviewed the functioning of the Housing Department. Housing Minister Jitendra Awhad and SRA chief executive Deepak Kapoor were present at the meeting.

“The CM has agreed to the plan in principle, but finer details will have to be worked out. At the moment, developers are facing a liquidity crunch,” an official said. “So many of them have started SRA projects but don’t have enough money to finish them. Several approvals have been held back since they haven’t been able to pay development charges and premiums. Under this scheme, they don’t have to pay much money upfront but can pledge their flats. They can repay later once they get money from buyers.”

According to officials, builders have to pay premium based on ready reckoner rates for fungible floor space index and lack of open spaces.

“It is mandatory to have open space around buildings, but in SRA schemes this is not possible, so builders pay a premium to make up for lack of open space. There are components such as lifts, staircase and ducts that are free of FSI. For this also builders have to pay a premium. On an average per square foot, builders have to pay Rs 2,500 as premium. This also includes labour cess and other development charges. So there is a lot of pressure on builders to pay premium, and there is an 18 per cent annual interest on delay,” the official said.

FSI is the ratio between the area of a covered floor (built up area) to the area of the plot on which the building stands.

Officials said the lien scheme is already in place in the BMC but requires special approval of the municipal commissioner.

According to the officials, there are currently 400-500 SRA projects at various stages of development.

Awhad said the scheme would inject liquidity into the market and fast track projects. “Our priority is to fast-track SRA projects. We want to ensure that slumdwellers who are living in transit camps or on rent get their own homes. We are working on various plans and options, including deferred payments, which will help ease the pressure on developers who are facing a liquidity crunch right now,” Awhad told Mumbai Mirror.

Thackeray also told the Housing Department to submit proposals to redevelop dilapidated Maharashtra Housing & Area Development Authority colonies under the Cluster Development Scheme. There are 56 such old colonies in Mumbai, with 104 layouts and 3,700 buildings, housing more than 76,000 residents. Redevelopment of these colonies will be undertaken under 33(5) of Development Control Rules. The government is also considering appointing SRA the sole authority to clear slum rehabilitation projects.

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