HIMUDA fails to meet housing demand

Shimla: A heavy demand for housing in popular hill stations notwithstanding but HIMUDA, the state agency set up to cater to the need, has failed to acquire any land even though it invited demand applications over a year ago.

“There were over 71 thousand applications for houses and apartments that we received,” says Ganesh Dutt, “but we have not been able to buy land in Shimla, Dharamsala or Manali.”

With each application the housing aspirant had to submit a demand draft of Rs 5000/- and HP Urban Development Authority (HIMUDA) collected over Rs 35 crores that it has been sitting on for over a year.

According to the offer terms, HIMUDA was mandated to buy land within a year of inviting demand applications but that expired on 31st March.

With the largest applications being for Shimla and with no land acquired or bought, the organization is offering to return the money or pay interest on the amount held by it.

“A board meeting is scheduled for next week and a decision about inability of land and the funds collected is on the agenda,” said Dutt.

No land was available in many other townships also, which included Mandi and Palampur. At Kullu, some land had been identified but the board had to take a decision over buying it out.

With some lands having been bought in Nahan and other parts of Sirmaur and around Solan, allegations of having paid high prices for them have surfaced.

A 115 bigha land piece on the Sabathu Road, about 5 Kms from Solan town, was bought at the rate of Rs 11 lakhs per bigha, sources disclosed.

However, Dutt denies the charges saying, “paying a reasonable price for lands to be bought for housing projects is secondary when there hardly is any land available for the purpose.”

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