Saturday, January 27, 2007

Urban poor may face shortage of homes by over 11 million in 2007

from The Daily India

New Delhi, While India eyes a GDP growth rate of nine per cent plus in the next five years, there is still no answer to the housing woes of the economically weaker sections of the society.

According to an official in the Union Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation Ministry, whether it is West Bengal, Tamil Nadu or Maharashtra, most states across the country will experience a massive shortage of over 11 million dwelling units for the urban poor in 2007.

Maharashtra will have a cumulative shortage of 3.72 million housing units this year. "Over 95 per cent housing shortage is related to the economically weaker sections (EWS)," a senior official in Union Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation Ministry was quoted as saying by a daily.

The shortage of housing in 2007 at the national level stands at 24.71 million out of which 21.78 million shortage relates to the economically weak people, the report said, adding that in the category of lower income group, there will be shortage of 2.89 million housing units.

According to the National Building Organisation (NBO), an agency under the Housing and Poverty Alleviation Ministry, there will be an estimated 0.04 million shortage of housing in the middle and high-income category in 2007.

The NBO's estimation of housing shortage for 2007 in Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal is 3.72, 2.82, 2.38 and 2.04 million units respectively.

The National capital, Delhi, which is on its way to becoming a world-class city, faces a shortage of 1.13 million housing units.

Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Karnataka and Rajasthan are other major states where projected housing shortage is 1.95, 1.66, 1.63 and 1 million respectively.

The Union Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation Ministry in the National Urban Housing and Habitat Policy-2006 has emphasised the need for addressing the housing problem of urban poor in slums. The policy mandates the earmarking of up to 20 per cent of dwelling units for EWS people in every private and public housing colony. As per Planning Commission estimates, the population living in urban slums in 2001 was pegged at 61.8 million, which reflects approximately 12 million families which by themselves would need 12 million proper houses along with all civic infrastructures.

Lack of access to basic amenities in urban areas is also a key problem to be addressed. There is a nine per cent deficiency in drinking water, 26 per cent in toilets and 23 per cent in drainage.

"The gap in qualitative terms would be much higher. Thus, the real challenge before the government is to ensure sustainable development of human settlements while emphasising a solution to the core problem of housing," the official was quoted as saying. (ANI)

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