AD­DRESS­ING IN­DIA’S UR­BAN HOUS­ING CRI­SIS

Ur­ban In­dia is grap­pling with an un­der-sup­ply of hous­ing units.Here are a few ways in which the hous­ing gap can be bridged

Hindustan Times (Chandigarh) - Estates - - ESTATES - HT Es­tates Cor­re­spon­dent ht­es­tates@hin­dus­tan­times.com

In­dia’s ur­ban hous­ing short­age is around 19 mil­lion as per a re­search by Cush­man & Wake­field and PHD Cham­ber of Com­merce and In­dus­try. This gap is set to widen if the hous­ing de­mand continues to re­main un­met. To ef­fec­tively deal with the is­sue, the govern­ment needs to play an im­por­tant role by giv­ing im­pe­tus to af­ford­able hous­ing, pav­ing the way for re­de­vel­op­ment schemes and lay­ing more em­pha­sis on city plan­ning.

Boost af­ford­able hous­ing

In a coun­try where mil­lions of people are home­less, the im­por­tance and rel­e­vance of af­ford­able hous­ing can hardly be ex­ag­ger­ated. No one can ar­gue that there is a huge un­met de­mand, which, if tapped, will re­sult in high ve­loc­ity of sales.

A ma­jor­ity of re­puted de­vel­op­ers in In­dia do not build af­ford­able hous­ing projects. They mainly fo­cus on mid to high-end and lux­ury projects. In­dia’s ur­ban hous­ing short­age is led by EWS and LIG sec­tions but the up­com­ing sup­ply in ur­ban cen­tres is be­yond the reach of the people who be­long to such sec­tions, says the re­search.

Build­ing in­te­grated town­ships

In­te­grated town­ships are built in places where a large tract of land is read­ily avail­able. These town­ships es­sen­tially con­tain re­tail, hous­ing as well as commercial de­vel­op­ments. Such town­ships also have hos­pi­tals and schools; so ev­ery amenity is in close prox­im­ity. Sev­eral states in In­dia are pro­mot­ing the con­cept to ease pres­sure on big cities, as per the C&W re­port.

Pro­vid­ing im­pe­tus to re­de­vel­op­ment

Slums are un­for­tu­nately a part of a typ­i­cal In­dian cityscape. A ma­jor­ity of people who be­long to the EWS and LIG sec­tions work in un­or­gan­ised sec­tors and live in slums for lack of bet­ter op­tions.

The prob­lem can be re­solved by de­mol­ish­ing slums, tem­po­rar­ily hous­ing dwellers in an­other lo­cal­ity and cre­at­ing bet­ter qual­ity hous­ing to re­place the slums. Sim­i­larly, ex­ist­ing old build­ings can give way to ver­ti­cal clus­ter de­vel­op­ment.Slums and old build­ings are a part of cen­tral busi­ness districts and city cen­tric lo­ca­tions at the mo­ment. Un­for­tu­nately, re­de­vel­op­ment is a much politi­cised sub­ject in In­dia; ten­ants of­ten do not agree to move to tem­po­rary houses in far-flung lo­ca­tions.

How­ever, ur­ban­i­sa­tion man­dates ef­fec­tive land-use, and re­de­vel­op­ment is an in­trin­sic part of that process. It needs to be stream­lined in a man­ner so as to ben­e­fit all stake­hold­ers in­volved. Re­de­vel­op­ment schemes can be un­der­taken only with govern­ment in­ter­ven­tion. If planned and ex­e­cuted well, it can be a so­lu­tion to most in­fra­struc­ture is­sues in our cities.

In­creas­ing FSI lim­its and build­ing ver­ti­cal cities

There is a strong pitch to in­crease per­mis­si­ble Floor Space In­dex (FSI) in In­dian cities con­sid­er­ing the space crunch in cities. Higher FSI brings in more sup­ply into the mar­ket, cre­at­ing more homes.

But ver­ti­cal growth must be planned. With­out the re­quired in­fras­truc­tural upgra­da­tion, higher FSI will re­sult in ex­tra load on the al­ready con­gested and chaotic roads.

In­dia lags be­hind in FSI norms com­pared to top cities of the world. Cities such as New York, Tokyo, Hong Kong and Shang­hai of­fer FSI lim­its be­tween 10 and 15. In Mum­bai, the per­mis­si­ble FSI ranges be­tween 2.5 and 4 for re­de­vel­op­ment projects, and be­tween 1.33 and 4 for nonre­de­vel­op­ment projects.

Mum­bai is per­haps the only city where FSI limit has been down­scaled; it was set as 4.5 in Mum­bai when it was in­tro­duced in 1960s.

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