HomeExpertSpeak'Affordable housing at affordable price', Ar. Sushanth Mehta

‘Affordable housing at affordable price’, Ar. Sushanth Mehta

2017 World Habitat day in India focused on the present policies that govern affordable housing in urban cities – like Delhi and Mumbai, the teeming metropolises where affordable housing is at a premium. Special attention was then paid to unplanned open spaces – spaces which usually gets occupied by migrant labour who comes to these cities to eke a living.

It is the dream of every one to own a home and trying to do so in big cities would mean a little help from the outside. The obvious concern is usually financial and that brings in the need to make housing affordable.

PAY – The Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana – is one scheme where accommodation / slum housing is GIS mapped, and where applications are taken online. Submissions with appropriate documents get visited by teams who in turn offer technical assistance to develop houses and make dreams come true.

Affordable housing is a necessity not merely in metropolises, but also in rural areas. The Indira Awaas Yojana was an affordable housing scheme, floated to provide immediate housing for people below poverty line in Rural Areas. The aim was to have a pucca shelter but the scheme was left incomplete and it is safe to say it was a total failure.

The reasons for the failure could be attributed to the scheme not taking into account certain ground realities. In-fact, the houses built were not occupied by the people as they felt it did not respond to local climate nor did it plan a space for the animals and poultry that are a essential part of their livelihood. The economics of funding was on the basis of 70:30 per cent ratio with the government financing the major 70% quotient. This finance arrangement did not prove useful to the end-user who was below poverty line (BLP) and who was in no way going to be able to generate the required 30%, the user’s share as contribution. The project failed.

RAY – The Rajiv Aawas Yojana, was another scheme that attempted to provide a Slum Free India. The governing principle of this scheme was to provide just basics, like water and electricity to all the slums. The focus unfortunately was not on the formal planning & redevelopment of existing slums. The mode of finance was from the Center to the States and then to the users. The mode adopted was the PPP mode (Public Private Partnership) for AHP (Affordable Housing Partnership).This too did not achieve the objectives outlined by the scheme as it resulted in haphazard growth and ended up just ‘legalizing unauthorized housing. There was no formal vision, or formal response to the growth in population, need for amenities, etc. which are central to any scheme of this nature. Stage –II of this plan was to actually create slum free housing consistent with future requirements even while covering present shortages. The plan was to also consciously include affordable or EWS in the housing policies.

Since land prices are so high, and a small unit house of about 60 sq feet, developed by a developer is so expensive, it continues to remain unaffordable. To make affordable housing, the Government must make the land available at zero cost to the developer so that they can pass on this benefit to the user. This alone will keep the unit cost of house low and make it available at affordable rates. There is a shortage of 22 million housing as of the moment and with the monthly income of these prospective owners being very low, the Dream and desire for housing will remain just a dream – a flame of passion with no fuel to feed it.

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