The emergence of townships in Maharashtra signifies a new trend in urban development. While it is constitutionally a prerogative of the State Government and Urban Local Bodies to undertake such development, the Township Notification invites private players on a large scale to participate in urban development.
This policy aims to reduce the involvement of state investment in infrastructure by allowing private entities to acquire large tracts of land and carry out area development projects. To facilitate the development of large-scale township projects, several land ceiling legislations have been amended to allow for large land holdings in designated urban areas.
What is an ‘’Integrated Township’’?
An Integrated Township, also known as a “city within a city,” is a conglomeration of residential, commercial, educational, and healthcare facilities along with the corresponding physical infrastructure, such as roads, power supplies, water supply, and sewage disposal facilities. Township development includes the construction of essential and supporting infrastructure. Integrated Townships are residential, business, retail, and recreational areas that are clearly defined and well-designed, equipped with integrated waste management systems, water resource management, and other amenities.
Regulatory Frameworks of the Government-
The Maharashtra Village Panchayat and Maharashtra Regional Town Planning Amendment Act, 2014, Maharashtra Act 43 of 2014, amended the term “Special Township Projects” to “Integrated Township Projects.” These projects are subject to a unique set of rules that are created by the Regional Planning Board under the Maharashtra Regional and Town Planning Act, 1966, and are periodically revised. The Maharashtra government aims to provide as many affordable homes as possible to the people following the State’s housing policy.
The policy permits a private landholder or developer who owns at least 40 hectares of contiguous land and an approach road with a minimum width of 18 meters to develop a township by obtaining permission and being exempt from some regulations.
On November 26, 2005, the Urban Development Department approved a government regulation about special townships for areas covered by regional plans, municipal corporations, municipal councils, etc. The integrated township policy, which was approved by the government on December 28, 2015, has taken the place of the special township policy for the areas covered by regional plans. The goal is to encourage private investment in the housing market to provide affordable housing and to make the investment process easier for the parties involved.
For areas under the jurisdiction of local bodies, such as the Municipal Corporation, Municipal Council, or Nagar Panchayat, a draft development plan outlining the proposed land use and public facilities following future population density must be prepared by sections 21 to 31 of the Maharashtra Regional and Town Planning Act, 1966. The government’s Department of Urban Development has approved the plans. The Government is exploring significant modifications to the current STP regulations to maximize land development potential, boost the supply of reasonably priced housing on the market, attract foreign direct investment into the Special Township Project space, develop Smart Townships through privatization at no cost to the Government, and streamline the approval process.
The government of Maharashtra has announced a significant discount of 50% on stamp duty for integrated township projects in underdeveloped regions around major cities. The aim is to encourage the development of housing and commercial properties. To qualify for the discount, the properties or land must be part of an ITP that has been approved by the designated authority. The concession will benefit approximately 30 townships around significant cities like Thane, Navi Mumbai, and Pune. This move is expected to make housing prices more competitive in the real estate market of key cities.
Aditya Pratap is a lawyer and founder of Aditya Pratap Law Offices. He practices in the realm of real estate, corporate, and criminal law. His website is adityapratap.in and his media interviews can be accessed at http://www.youtube.com/@AdityaPratap/featured . Views expressed are personal.
This article has been assisted by Aishwarya, a 2nd year B.A., LL.B (Hons.) student from Chanakya National Law University, Patna.