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Maharashtra Plans Dedicated Regulator for Co-Operative Housing Societies

A notification, issued on February 10 by the department of cooperatives, suggested separation of housing cooperative administration from other cooperatives to make it more transparent and effective.

In a significant move that will ease handling of housing society affairs, the state government has proposed setting up a separate regulatory authority to oversee them and resolve grievances by drafting a separate chapter dedicated to housing in the Cooperatives Act. The present Act addresses regulation for credit, sugar and all other cooperative societies together. The new chapter will chalk out guiding principles for dispute redressal and give judicial powers to the regulatory authority so that people don’t approach court over minor matters.

A notification, issued on February 10 by the department of cooperatives, suggested separation of housing cooperative administration from other cooperatives to make it more transparent and effective. The government, through the notification, set up a committee of experts and directed it to submit a report. The committee is led by Sandeep Deshmukh, joint registrar for cooperatives and slum rehabilitation, and includes existing and former members of the cooperatives department, besides experts such as Ramesh Prabhu and Chhaya Aajgaonkar.

There are over 70,000 cooperative societies in the Mumbai metropolitan region and the number keeps rising with the expansion in and around the distant suburbs such as Navi Mumbai, Kalyan-Dombivli, Thane and Vasai-Virar. Around 10 years ago, the number was 45,000-50,000. Last year, it also came to light that 40-50% of the housing societies were still unaudited and had not conducted elections.

The mandate of the committee includes exploring effective laws and efficient procedure to help society members achieve the deemed conveyance (ownership) of the piece of land without any hindrance from builders.

Prabhu said the notification proposes to completely change the existing norms for housing society elections, besides suggesting a clear-cut guideline for management, conducting repairing works and deal with public grievances in day to day society affairs. “It also suggests doing away with old laws that have become redundant,” he added.

The notification also suggested that the new Act should take care of the needs of not just big housing societies and townships, but also bungalow apartments and open plots. “The law should encourage quality construction of apartments, transparent transfer of ownership, and routine maintenance. To make the new law more comprehensive, more NGOs, social workers, legal experts and other experts should be in the committee to make the report and recommendations more inclusive,” it added.

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