Affordable housing for the masses - India

Affordable housing for the masses

Director
Red Fort Capital
The new age real estate developer has envisioned a dream — a dream of housing every family in the country. ‘Affordable housing’ is a term that posses the potential to transform this dream, also harboured by millions of households, into reality. Affordable housing includes value housing, which is the need of every middle class family, as well as low income housing, where the most significant need of India lies.
Over a billion people around the world live in appalling conditions. In India alone, about 100 million people live in slums and slum-like conditions without adequate basic facilities. These numbers are expected to touch 200 million by 2020. If the current trend continues, the number of urban dwellers will reach almost 5 billion by 2030. In India, the urban population is expected to reach 576 million in 2030 from the current 328 million. With this rapid urbanisation, one of the biggest challenges will be providing affordable housing to city dwellers, especially the poor.
Aggregating land in the outskirts of congested cities with a view to building mass scale housing for the poor is the need of the hour if India’s cities need to clean their environment and ensure sustainable and inclusive growth. To ensure that we are able to house the economically weak and disadvantaged, we must be able to provide housing at a cost of around five times the per capita income.
With the number of families earning more than Rs 2 lakh annually, set to double to around 20 million in the next two years, demand for small and simple apartments is set to mushroom. Prices will need to become more realistic if developers have to succeed in finding enough buyers. Much of the affordable housing projects will necessarily be built in suburban areas, given the prohibitive cost of land in cities. Land cost needs to be comparatively lower for an affordable housing project. There is also a need to develop innovative ways to reduce construction costs without compromising on the quality of housing.There is also an urgent need to look at the use of newer, energy efficient, environment friendly materials and innovative construction technologies that minimise skilled inputs and deliver faster results at affordable price. These approaches mitigate increasing raw material cost and mainly utilise unskilled labour, drastically reducing dependence on skilled manpower, which is currently in short supply.
Paving the way for such trimming in construction cost is the use of ‘prefabricated materials’, or ‘systems technology’. The use of these practices can bring down construction time by as much as 50%, reduce costs by 10% — 15% and also avoid employment of a large and skilled work force. At the same time, these practices help in delivering a quality end product. Another aspect that should not be neglected is good transportation. Most projects for affordable housing are likely be on the outskirts of cities, so the importance of providing a sound and efficient transportation system cannot be undermined.
There is also a need for the regulatory authorities to review their settlement policy by concentrating on developing main infrastructure, laying down policy, and setting up a regulatory mechanism. Encourage adoption of appropriate technologies and suitable building materials to enable construction of safe, durable, comfortable and sustainable dwellings.
The government should consider tax sops, including cuts in duties and levies for the real estate sector, in a bid to promote affordable housing in the country. Apart from the taxation on land, taxes are also levied on construction and building materials such as steel, cement and plywood. The state also levies octroi, electricity duty and stamp duties on transfer of property. The government should help in bringing down the component of taxes and levies to make housing more affordable.

Keywords - Affordable housing for the masses - India, construction technologies, Red Fort Capital, low cost housing, building materials, environment friendly materials, a dream of housing every family, poor, building mass scale housing for the poor, moladi

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