MUMBAI: Acute land shortage in Mumbai has led to a ridiculous situation where plots fetch astronomical rates. On Monday, a 25-acre sprawl belonging to Tata Steel in the suburban Mumbai invited the highest bid of Rs 1,155 crore. Over the past decade, as the housing shortage became more severe, the city recorded phenomenal property transactions. Fours years ago, a land parcel sold for over Rs 4,000 crore, a national record of sorts.
So why does this happen in a city where half the population live in shanties? India's commercial and financial capital is one of the densely populated cities in the world. Some parts of the island city hold over 40,000 people in a sq km.
The city's land mass is barely 480 sq m, but its buildable area is even less--just about 200 sq km in which live over 12 million people. This makes Mumbai a highly claustrophobic city.
The city requires 2.1 million houses with an annual demand for about 2 lakh homes. However, private developers who control Mumbai's real estate development (mainly because the government has abdicated its responsibility as far as housing is concerned) provide barely 25,000 houses every year.
This supply does not meet the demand, and hence land prices continue to increase. But a drastic situation requires drastic solutions. The local authority must completely overhaul the governing concepts of development plan. This includes effective land use pattern, creation of more housing stock by pooling of land and making it available for residents.
This should be combined with a plan to decongest the city by creating mega cities with rapid public transport in the larger Mumbai Metropolitan Region.
Mumbai has great potential, but it is a severe lack of housing and infrastructure, which holds it back.