Rural development not ignored
MASTER PLAN 2021 PUTS SHORTAGE OF DWELLING UNITS IN DELHI AT 24 LAKH BACKLOG OF UNITS IS 4 LAKH UNITS AND 20 LAKH UNITS ARE REQUIRED TO ACCOMMODATE THE PROJECTED POPULATION 50% TO 55% UNITS WILL HAVE TO BE IN THE LIG SEGMENT
urbanisation. Delhi is now about onethird urbanised, which is almost 32% to Gujarat’s 42%. The perception that India lives in villages and that elections are won on rural votes is now changing because the urban population is now actively participating in the elections. Hence, the focus on city attributes such as housing, solid waste management, drinking water, transport and energy conservation. Political parties are recognising this urban phenomenon,” says Amit Bhatt, strategy head, EMBARQ India.
What then should the common man, the citizen of Delhi, make of these promises? According to G Ramesh, chairperson, Centre for Public Policy, IIM Bangalore, earlier most manifestos would talk about rural upliftment and development of slums. Today, the thrust is on looking beyond slums. To know why this evolution has taken place, one must undertand that these documents are mostly aspirational and reflect the next stage of development, the next level of aspiration. To cite an example, they promise a slum dweller a pucca house and those with a pucca house better housing and infrastructure facilities. While a smart city may appeal to the people of Delhi and Gujarat, the plank may not appeal to people from backward areas.
Manifestos have not completely stopped focussing on t he issue of housing for the poor. Amitabh Behar, national campaign conveyor of WadaNaTodo Abhiyan India, an organisation that has brought out a people’s manifesto, is of the opinion that they do address issues of land titles, the question of homestead (The dwelling house and its adjoining land where a family resides) land. Of late, several inconsistencies have been seen in these documents.
Indu Prakash Singh of the Indo- Global Social Service Society and national convenor for National Forum for Housing Rights, says that housing had not been an election plank for some parties until recently. In one manifesto the promise of housing for all seems to be in direct conflict with the concept of smart cities. If the government has to build 2.5 crore houses by 2022, then it has to build 8,500 houses per day for the units to be ready by that time. The emphasis is misplaced because eviction of families is happening simultaneously. Housing ought to be linked to livelihood and treated as a basic fundamental right. Also, the buzz that has accompanied smart cities in the last few months has not been replicated for the housing for all campaign. The smart cities concept seems to be in direct contradiction to undeveloped cities where the poor have no place. These are enclaves for the rich, the focus should have been on housing for all, Singh adds.