In a blow to Housing Minister Prakash Mehta, the state government has taken back most of the powers granted to a cabinet sub-committee headed by him to allot scattered non-buildable strips of land adjoining Mhada plots.
The power to allot these small strips of land known as “tit-bit” plots, usually used to boost FSI, was earlier with Mhada. In July 2017, a cabinet sub-committee headed by Mehta took over this role. Now, in a government resolution issued on May 23, the housing department said the power to allot tit-bit areas next to plots of up to 4,000 sq m (nearly an acre) would revert to Mhada. The sub-committee would only decide on tit-bit areas adjoining plots of more than 4,000 sq m.
Sources say barely 10% of Mhada plots are more than 4,000 sq m, so effectively the power to allot tit-bit plots would revert to Mhada.
Although tit-bit plots are small, they play a significant role. In a redevelopment involving two plots, the tit-bit areas scattered around the plots can be merged for more integrated development. The tit-bit plots also boost the building rights or FSI eligible to a housing society on Mhada land undergoing redevelopment. They can even add to the width of a road or the size of a recreation ground near a plot.
When contacted, Mehta said he had nothing to do with the decision to form the sub-committee in the first place. “The sub-committee was never formed and no decisions were taken by it. The decision to form the sub-committee was taken at the government level in order to classify plots of Mhada land,” he told TOI. He also said the decision to form a sub-committee was taken after a high court order on allotment of Mhada plots.
However, officials said the HC order only referred to bringing greater transparency in allotment of Mhada plots by following a tendering process. It did not direct that allotment of tit-bit plots be shifted to a cabinet sub-committee.
Officials said the decision to take away Mhada’s powers on allotment of such plots had inconvenienced housing societies. As many as 25 proposals from housing societies seeking allotment of tit-bit plots adjoining their buildings had been pending for a year, sources said.
Mhada Vice-President Milind Mhaiskar said the government’s move would speed up the decision-making process. “This means the decision to allot tit-bit plots can be taken by the Mhada administration and proposals can be cleared faster.”
Housing rights activist Chandrashekar Prabhu welcomed the move. “In fact, the decision to allot all tit-bit areas irrespective of size of the plot should be with Mhada. These are small non-buildable strips of land. Citizens should not be made to run around for their allotment especially when they pay a premium to Mhada for the tit-bit plots.”