By Ssumit Berry
A right to shelter is a basic human need. The provision of adequate housing is emerging as a major thrust area for the present Indian government. The Modi government has taken many steps towards making ‘Housing for all’ a reality by 2022. The Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY) has expanded its wings to fulfill the housing needs of the mid-income group, besides the economically weaker sections (EWS) and low-income group (LIG). Under the scheme, 18 million urban and 30 million rural houses are to be built by the said year, out of which only about 41,000 houses have been built till end-March 2017, out of the endorsed 16.3 lakh houses under the scheme by the Centre. As per the original three-year plan, another 33 lakh houses were to be built in 2017-18, but several factors are hindering PMAY from achieving its full potential. Let us take a sneak peek into the major challenges the government is experiencing in implementing its Housing for All mission:
Lack of participation of large organized real estate players: It is seen that not many of the organized real estate players are participating in this mission due to low profit margins. As it is a Central government mission, there are also high sensitivities to changes in input costs, leading to project delays. 70% of contractors say that they are having a difficult time finding qualified workers or professionals to fill these growing positions. Up to this point, developers have taken some steps to try and combat this issue such as increasing pay and benefits and investing in training. The lack of a skilled workforce will negatively affect the scheme.
Lack of clarity: ‘Housing for All scheme’ is a national mission, where local and state governments have a major role in executing programmes under it. Due to lack of clarity on powers of various agencies, executing such schemes becomes confusing. Urban policy experts agree that in India, decisions that should be taken on a local level are often devised by state governments or the Central government. Though the number of homeless in India is declining every year, this trend will be more articulated if we follow a bottom-up approach.
Slow approval process: The approval process is slow, which is again a big challenge. The Modi government should speed up the process in order to achieve its announced target. While RERA has brought in a more transparent system, still projects take several years for approval and this increases cost. A single window clearance can help in faster approvals. As per a study conducted by Assocham, 826 housing projects are running behind the scheduled timings across 14 states as on December 2016. All these projects have passed the launch stage. The study highlights that the average delay is of 39 months in Maharashtra, 48 months in Punjab and 31 months in Karnataka.
Scarcity of land: Both urbanization and India’s population are increasing day by day causing scarcity of land. This is another impediment to achieve the Mission of ‘Housing for All.’
Illegal settlement: A chunk of problems in Indian housing segment are not really due to absolute homelessness but due to illegal settlements that are not fit for human habitation.
It is a mandatory demand of time to arrest these bottlenecks so that our Prime Minister’s dream of providing ‘Housing for All’ at an affordable cost could be fulfilled.
(The author is Managing Director of the BDI Group)