Is shelter for all by 2020 attainable ?
A three-pronged approach involving the state, regulatory bodies and the executing agency or private player is required for the Housing for All policy to be successful
Viewed dispassionately, the current government’s Housing For All by 2022 promise seems a bit unrealistic at the moment, as the modalities and concrete steps needed to be undertaken to achieve this goal have not been spelt out. Constructing two crore urban houses and four crore rural houses is a huge undertaking in itself, and will require not only sustained government interest and investment but also substantial private sector investment and involvement.
In the previous budget, the announcement of Housing for All was accompanied by increased allotment to the National Housing Bank for both rural housing and for extending credit to the urban poor/EWS/LIG segment. There was also talk of setting up a Mission on Low Cost Affordable Housing, which was to be anchored in the National Housing Bank. However, the track record of government-built housing in terms of quantum and delivery timelines has been as abysmal as that of the private sector. The last Budget did not indicate any further steps on the Housing for All by 2022 initiative.
If this very ambitious goal is indeed to be met, there needs to be a clear, wellthought out policy document outlining the exact deliverables and accompanied by methods/ initiatives to streamline the development process. This entails reducing approval times while providing specific incentives to build such houses on time. Considering that the government has seven years in all to achieve this target, it f undamentally involves construction of 30 billion square feet of housing stock, or approximately four billion square feet per year if we assume an average of 500 square feet per house.
To state that this is an ambitious objective is perhaps an understatement. Without a clear roadmap in place, it is likely to remain unachievable. The roadblocks remain in ensuring land availability, easy credit and involving construction experts, town planners and the private sector to expedite this target.
A three-pronged approach involving the state, regulatory bodies and the executing agency/private player is the essence.
The respective state governments will also play a major role in synergising their own housing policy with t hat of t he Centre and revitalising the role of the development authority as more a facilitator with contracts being awarded to private players/ semigovernment agencies such as HUDCO and NBCC utilising the Budget’s ‘plug and play’ mechanism, where all approvals and linkages are already in place.
Execution penalties will be deterrents, but it is essential to have the right development partners who will not put their hands up in the middle of project execution citing financial viability.. Suitable fiscal incentives to the private industry as well as financial support through cheaper industry loans will also be required to ensure healthy participation.