The proposed move by the Union government’s Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) for auction of salt pan lands to private players may not result in a sharp drop in real estate prices in Mumbai.
Release of land didn’t see plunge in prices in the past
Pankaj Kapoor of Liases Foras, a real estate consulting and research group, said when there was a release of land through SRA and redevelopment projects even in the past, the prices did not plunge. A feeling of de ja vu may prevail in the case of the auction of salt pan lands also, he told FPJ. The biggest beneficiaries will be the landlords concerned, he added.
The issue of utilising over 1,700 acres of salt pan land in the metropolis for real estate development has been hanging fire for the past several years. Several environmentalists, including D Stalin of Vanashakti, have been opposing the exploitation of salt pan lands since these function as balancing chambers during heavy rains and absorb excess water. They warned of severe floods if these vast lands are opened up for any form of development.
Builders will not reduce cost after auctions: Leading builder
Several builders contacted by FPJ said in an auction the land will go to the highest bidder and this would majorly add to his capital cost. “There is no way a builder would reduce the price post these auctions,” a leading builder said on condition of anonymity. Since 2016 the metropolitan region has been having an unsold inventory of 3,40,000 units as on September, 2022. This has not, however, adversely impacted on property prices which continue to be high. “Builders, specially the big ones, appear to be having tremendous holding capacity,” a real estate broker observed.
There is also an expectation that the new policy will open the doors for the redevelopment of large housing colonies like Garodia Nagar in Ghatkopar (E) and Chheda Nagar in Chembur where the residents are unable to go in for redevelopment since their housing complexes were built on salt land.
While the BJP-led Centre is for releasing salt lands for affordable housing, leaders of the Nationalist Congress Party like Jitendra Awhad, who was the housing minister in the erstwhile MVA government, have vehemently opposed the move.
60,000 acres of salt land available across country
According to an agency report, in May last year, the DPIIT had sought applications for the empanelment of valuers in Salt Commissioner’s Organization (SCO) for a period of five years.
About 60,000 acres of salt land is available in various states.
“Land declared surplus to the requirement of SCO would be considered for transfer for public purposes in accordance with the General Financial Rules under intimation to the Ministry of Urban Development,” the DPIIT had said in a document inviting application for valuers.
The Salt Commissioner’s Office, headquartered in Jaipur, is under the administrative control of the DPIIT.