New Delhi, Oct 7 (IANS) There was an urgent need to integrate places of work with dwelling places while planning urban infrastructure, Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation Minister Girija Vyas said Monday.
The housing shortage in urban areas is 18.78 million units and of this shortage, 96 percent pertains to economically weaker sections and the lower income group, she said.
Vyas said the urban poor are forced to live in slums and other unauthorized colonies, far away from their livelihood centers, posing risks to their lives as well as their family.
"Hence there is an urgent need to integrate mobility with livelihood for the urban poor and slum dwellers," she said at a function organized to celebrate the World Habitat Day here.
Urban planning and design should focus on how to bring people and places together, by creating the right opportunity for work, leisure, education, healthcare, commerce and agricultural farms in the vicinity, rather than simply increasing the length of urban transport infrastructure, she said.
The function was also attended by the representatives of the United Nations, senior officers of the ministry of housing and urban poverty alleviation and Housing and Urban Development Corporation (HUDCO).
The United Nations has designated the first Monday of October every year as World Habitat Day.
Vyas said that the theme of "urban mobility" chosen for this year's World habitat Day is very relevant for India because mobility and access to goods and services is essential for the efficient functioning of its expanding cities and towns.
"Accessible cities encourage a shift towards more sustainable modes of transportation and draw more and more travellers out of cars onto trains, buses, bike paths, and sidewalks," she added.