Sensing the negative mood among urban voters, the Congress-NCP alliance is focusing on affordable housing as a vote winner. A joint manifesto will be announced on October 2. With Mumbai and Thane accounting for 60 of the 288 seats in the assembly, the ruling combine, in its manifesto, is proposing a shift away from private housing to public, with cooperative housing societies being allotted land at lower prices in Mumbai and other cities. Though the law to enable this has to be finetuned, the idea is to allow societies to invest in housing. Strict guidelines will be put in place to see that the land is not hijacked by big builders. A senior cabinet minister said Mumbai has “more than two lakh houses under lock. An equal numbers is under construction, waiting for buyers in the city and suburbs at exorbitant prices ranging from Rs 90 lakh to Rs 3.5 crore”. But the majority of middle class buyers can afford flats only in the price range of Rs 15-50 lakh. The idea is to revive the 1960s concept of cooperative housing under which the government will allocate land at below market prices to lower and middle class people. The alliance realises that housing is the most sensitive issue among Mumbai’s 98 lakh voters.
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