One in 10 properties in city lying vacant.Posted on : 16 Mar, 2012
MUMBAI: In a city prized for its real estate, it may be of interest to many that over 4.6 lakh of the city's nearly 42 lakh Census houses are lying vacant, reveals district-level data from Census 2011. Also, 10.5% of houses in the island city are lying vacant compared to 8.5% a decade ago. About 1.5% of houses were locked at the time of the Census count, which could be because all family members were away when enumerators visited.
Census houses comprise residences as well as other dwellings such as shops, offices, hotels, hospitals, factories, workshops and places of worship. Census officials said it would be possible to estimate the city's housing shortfall only when findings related to homeless individuals are released.
But experts said the extent of vacancy could indicate what a goldmine Mumbai's real estate has become. Urban development expert R N Sharma of the Tata Institute of Social Sciences believes the vacant stock could indicate profiteering is at play in an era of sky-high property prices. "It shows that speculators and builders don't mind holding property in the hope that prices may rise at a later stage," he said.
But others like housing expert and former Mhada chief Chandrashekhar Prabhu say Census data should be put in perspective and there could be many reasons for houses lying vacant. "There are many dilapidated or cessed buildings, particularly in the island city, and families could keep such a room locked in wait for redevelopment while they stay in the suburbs," Prabhu said.
Experts also said many Indians living in other cities or working abroad have found Mumbai to be a profitable investment. "Many successful people buy houses in Mumbai as an investment but live elsewhere, which may contribute to vacant housing stock," said demographic expert P Arokiasamy.
Experts said that whereas old-timers move to more spacious homes from one-room tenements once their families expand, they don't always sell their old homes.