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

HT Estates - - HTESTATES - Anuj Puri

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.

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