Too small to be com­fort­able

100% de­duc­tion for prof­its to builders of­fer­ing 30 sq m hous­ing units in met­ros is laud­able, but fit­ting a fam­ily of four in such flats will be no easy feat

HT Estates - - FRONT PAGE - Van­dana Ram­nani

The gov­ern­ment’s re­cent Bud­get pro­posal for 100% de­duc­tion for prof­its for builders un­der­tak­ing hous­ing projects of 30 sq me­tres in metro cities and 60 sq m in other cities does not seem to have been well thought out. Though well-in­ten­tioned and aimed at at­tract­ing de­vel­op­ers to the af­ford­able hous­ing seg­ment to achieve the Hous­ing For All tar­get, the pro­posal could fiz­zle out be­cause of one crit­i­cal el­e­ment – that of size. Dwelling units of 30 sq m ( around 450 sq ft) say hous­ing ex­perts, are too small for peo­ple to live in com­fort­ably. Build­ing such units would also not be fea­si­ble given the low den­sity norms in most states. The ideal limit should have been 60 sq m for all town cat­e­gories for home­buy­ers to en­joy a min­i­mum qual­ity of life, say plan­ners.

“Sus­tained pol­icy sup­port for em­pow­er­ing af­ford­able hous­ing de­liv­ery in In­dia was clearly ev­i­dent in this year’s Bud­get an­nounce­ments. Such spe­cific pol­icy stim­u­lus needs to be un­der­stood not only in the con­text of var­i­ous sup­ply side dy­nam­ics but also on how vari­a­tions of de­vel­op­ment and den­sity norms be­tween states could have a bear­ing on ac­tual af­ford­able hous­ing de­liv­ery,” says T Chakra­vorty, ur­ban econ­o­mist .

Ge­tam­ber Anand, pres­i­dent, Con­fed­er­a­tion of Real Es­tate De­vel­op­ers’ As­so­ci­a­tion of In­dia (Credai), the um­brella body of the real es­tate sec­tor, says that the biggest chal­lenge be­fore the sec­tor is to lobby with states to in­crease den­sity norms to be able to con­struct houses of 30 sq me­tre and 60 sq m.

The bud­get has also put the onus on real es­tate builders to fin­ish houses within three years of start­ing work if they are to avail the ex­emp­tion for af­ford­able homes.”This would also be a chal­lenge for us in the ab­sence of sin­gle window clear­ances and con­sid­er­ing the fact that en­vi­ron­ment clear­ances take the long­est to come through,” Anand adds.

On the mat­ter of size, Ro­hit Modi, director, Ashi­ana Homes Pvt Ltd, says it would be dif­fi­cult to build 30 sq m units in Haryana. “Cur­rently, it is not pos­si­ble to con­struct a unit mea­sur­ing less than 833 sq ft. To en­able de­vel­op­ers to con­struct 30 sq m units, the state gov­ern­ment will have to re­lax den­sity norms for af­ford­able hous­ing and even spec­ify the min­i­mum cost of the unit,” he says.

Wel­com­ing the move for 100% de­duc­tion for prof­its, Su­nil Agar­wal, MD, Black Olive Ven­tures Pvt Ltd, feels the 30 sq m limit for metro cities is on the lower side. This should ide­ally have been in the range of 40 sq m to 45 sq m for the unit to be more liv­able for a fam­ily of four or five mem­bers.

So, how small would apart­ments of 30 sq m be? How many rooms could ar­chi­tects be able to fit in such units? Ex­perts say in met­ros it would only be pos­si­ble to build per­haps a 8 feet by10 feet bed­room, 10 feet by 15 feet living room, toi­let and kitchen of 5 feet by 7 feet and a bal­cony. Apart­ments of this size are also likely to have low circulation space and no util­ity space, Agar­wal says.

The limit of 60 sq m in TierII cities, how­ever, would be of ad­e­quate size ac­com­mo­dat­ing two bed­rooms of 12 feet by 10 feet and living room of 12 feet by15 feet, be­sides one toi­let and a kitchen of 5 feet by 7 ft each and a bal­cony. There is de­mand for such 1BHK and 2BHK houses in ar­eas such as Dehradun, Nashik and Mysore, he says.

Low den­sity norms would be a chal­lenge for ar­chi­tects. Den­sity re­stric­tions in Ghazi­abad for in­stance al­low a max­i­mum of 20 units on a plot size of 1,000 sq m (FSI 2.75), which means that if one were to fac­tor in a max­i­mum size of 30 sq m, the num­ber of units will be 83 and not 20 (see box above). Car park­ing space will only push up costs.

The bud­get pro­poses that the units be built on plots of 1,000 sq m in Tier-I cities and 2,000 sq m in Tier-II cities.

“Our anal­y­sis shows that un­less some states which have rigid den­sity norms, less pro­vi­sion for group hous­ing projects and park­ing norms do not mod­ify the norms, the de­vel­op­ers in th­ese states may not be able to make use of th­ese ben­e­fits,” Agar­wal adds.

Go­ing for­ward, even if states were to make changes in their byelaws to make this a re­al­ity, it is un­likely that the ex­ist­ing in­fra­struc­ture will be able to cope with high den­sity.

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