Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) in association with the National Housing Bank (NHB) Wednesday organized 'Housing Conclave' to address the existing issues and emerging opportunities of affordable housing as well as to invite investors for the same.
Present at the occasion was West Bengal Urban Development Minister Firhad Hakim.
With West Bengal witnessing an urbanization rate of 32% and anticipating a migration of 41.5 million people to urban areas by 2030, affordable housing has become a pressing problem since in most cases the labour class has to travel huge distances to reach their work place and thus giving a fillip to slums in urban areas, informed FCCI officials.
"You are aware that our government is continuously making for the development of urban infrastructures, since May, 2011. We have already built up around 66,368 dwelling units and handed over to urban poor and nearer to complete 36,703 dwelling units," said Hakim.
According to the 11th Five Year Plan period (2007-2012), the total requirements of housing is estimated to be 26.53 million out of which 99% are required for the economically weaker sections (EWS) and lower income groups (LIG), while the working group on Rural Housing has estimated the total housing shortage in rural areas at 47.43 million units.
To combat with this, as well as growth in urban population that has increased to 31.80%, sustainable growth is required since there are 78.48 million houses stocked for 78.86 million urban household according to 2011 census providing a gap of 0.38 million, said the minister.
"We have also built up around 39,000 dwelling units under Integrated Housing Scheme Development Programme (IHSDP) component under JNNURM for 80 non-mission towns and handed over to urban poor and 6,000 dwelling units are going on, out of total sanctioned dwelling unit of 52,592," he said.
With the Rajiv Awas Yojna (RAY) and Public Private Partnership (PPP) model, Hakim ensured a number of investors coming forward.
"We have discussed with investors about low cost housing and mass housing for the downtrodden in the outskirts of the city so that the prices can be comfortable and we will consider the outcome of this discussion as well," he added.
The constraints on both demand and supply side along with issues of availability of land, finance at reasonable price, infrastructure, legal and regulatory frameworks were identified at the occasion by United Bank CMD, Bhaskar Sen.
Sen said,"There must be creation of computerized land records, revision of threshold unit from Rs.2 lac and decent margin for the lenders with incentives."
The National Housing Bank CMD, R.V. Verma informed," We have undertaken three policies for affordable housing. For incomes ranging from Rs.10,000 to Rs.20,000, borrowers will get housing loans from Rs.2 lac to Rs.5 lac with interest subsidies of 1% and 5%."
"We are setting up Great Guarantee Trust for banks covering the risk factors with a target disbursement of Rs.17,000 crore from our side. We will provide concessional subsidies of 0.5 to 0.75% to the banks only if they come up with plans for lower segment," he added.
Principal Secretary of Urban Development and CMD, WBHIDCO Debasish Sen noted,"Let us not put the whole thing on private sector alone, let us not put the burden on public sector solely. There must be a small nudging in public-private partnership, an intervention of private sector to invest in construction of affordable housing for LIGs."
"Economic sector has to be increased alongside housing sector to ensure urbanization with all required amenities," he asserted.
(Reporting by Shabarni Basu)