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‘Make affordable housing a priority in urban planning’

Dec 17, 2012

NAREDCO’s annual two-day convention on sustainable housing for masses highlighted the need of making affordable housing a priority in urban planning.

Holistic urban planning which would include a focused effort towards affordable housing would be imperative if India is to address the 18.78 million household urban housing shortage. “Socio-economic planning should go hand in hand with spatial planning” was among the various insightful recommendations which were made at NAREDCO’s 11th Annual Convention in New Delhi on “Sustainable Housing for Masses: Introspection and Way Forward”.

The two-day convention, which attracted over 400 delegates from across the country, highlighted that optimal utilsation of land, especially of Government-owned land parcels, could improve land availability for real estate developers. In addition to the need for unlocking PSU land, the various real estate stakeholders deliberated on other key issues such as delay in approvals from multiple local authorities, the need for more innovative financing options for low-income groups, limited financing avenues for developers, and how the Public Private Partnership (PPP) model can be used more efficienctly?

There is a growing need to revisit previously conceived government regulations, which have created an artificial land shortage and pushed up land prices in India. Without Government support, the limited availability of land in urban areas makes it unviable for developers to take up affordable housing projects.

To increase the credibility of the sector, there were also calls for bringing in all the key stakeholders i.e. the Developers, the Urban Local Bodies, the financing companies and the customers under the purview of the Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Bill. Various speakers at the event also opined that through the efforts of NAREDCO, real estate developers were moving towards a mechanism of self–regulation.

Delay in approvals from multiple local authorities, rising construction costs, lack of skilled manpower, financing constraints for low-income groups, limited financing avenues for developers, the need to relook laws & building guidelines and disputable taxation regimes, are the other key constraints for Real Estate developers, says the NAREDCO-KPMG report.

It was also suggested that the country needs to learn from states such as Rajasthan which have achieved reasonable success in implementation of affordable housing policies. Another key recommendation was to revisit the prevalent building byelaws & building guidelines in the country.

In this context, it was suggested that recent changes in the building rules of Andhra Pradesh should be used as a model by various states to define new building byelaws and guidelines.
Affordable Housing be included in the list of infrastructure so that concession and benefits availed by various infrastructure categories is available to housing.

The convention was earlier inaugurated by Pranab Mukherjee, the Honorable President of India, Ajay Maken, Minister of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation was also present along with other esteemed dignitaries. The NAREDCO-KMPG study on “Bridging the Urban Housing Shortage in India” was also released during the course of the event.

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