IHS Alumni Association India, in collaboration with Lokashraya Foundation, conducted a seminar on the Housing for All initiative on 8th October 2015 at the India International Centre in New Dehli. The seminar was aimed at discussing issues, challenges and opportunities in achieving the national goal of affordable housing for all in urban areas. The four major sub-themes were: Housing for All, Land and Planning Issues, Financing Aspect and Role of the Stakeholders, and Way Forward.
Dr. Abhay Kumar (Executive Director, Lokashraya Foundation), Mr. Rajiv Sharma (President, IHS Alumni Association of India), Shri Chetanya Kasyap (Chairperson, Lokashraya Foundation, Dr. Akshaya Kumar Sen (Fellow, HUDCOs HSMI), Dr. H.S. Gill (Executive Director, HUDCOs HSMI), Dr. Kiran Wadhva (Former Executive Director, HUDCO), Dr. Kulwant Singh (Advisor, UN HABITAT), Dr. Neelima Risbud (Visiting Professor, SPA) were some of the speakers who addressed different issues related to affordable housing.
According to the Technical Group set up by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation (MoHUPA), Government of India, the total housing shortage was 18.7 million in urban areas in 2012, out of which 96% relates to the social housing i.e. economically weaker sections (EWS) and low income groups (LIG). Even within the social housing, approximately 89% belong to the EWS and only 11% belong to the LIG segment. The biggest challenges, therefore, for the government are to provide national-wide housing, basic amenities (potable water, electricity, road and transport) and social services (education, healthcare, skill development and livelihood etc.).
Issues, Challenges and Opportunities
The seminar discussed the key components of housing which included availability of land, efficient and modern technology for quicker implementation of the project, management of the housing post construction, affordability of the poor, social equity and financing of various stakeholders. All these components need to be addressed suitably for PMAY to be a success in providing housing for all.
Another important aspect of housing for all is defining housing affordability, which universally relies on the ‘household incomes’. In general, a ratio of housing costs to income within 30% is considered as the housing affordability benchmark in the developed countries. In India, the Task Force on Affordable Housing (MoHUPA, 2012) also set the same norm.
In this backdrop, the Housing for All programme has crucial implications for the country as the market needs balanced and sustainable funding models, and pro-active participation of all stakeholders. Due to the limited intervention of the government, the shortfall has increased to a massive level. Under this background, the PMAY paves a way to improve the supply of the social housing in India.
Prof. D.B. Gupta, who is currently a Senior Consultant at NCAER stated that housing for all is a dream and we should move towards fulfilling it. In general, governance needs to be improved by a great deal and for that, we need to change our behaviour and attitude. Affordability is another important aspect, as the rising cost of the houses makes them unaffordable for the majority of the population. Therefore, the problem is more challenging for the EWS. In order to improve the lives of people, governmental funds are needed. Housing is a basic need as it provides well-being to people through shelter, privacy, cleanliness, hygiene and health.
About the author:
Rajiv Sharma is the president of the IHS Alumni Association in India. Rajiv works for the Housing and Urban Development Corporation in India, an institution which has a long-term professional partnership with the IHS.