New Delhi: Urban housing shortage in India has plunged from 24.7 million at the beginning of the 11th five year plan in 2007 to 18.78 million for the next five year plan from 2012 to 2017, according to a government report.
At a press conference in the capital, Kumari Selja, minister of housing and urban poverty alleviation, told reporters that the main feature of the technical report on urban housing shortage was that the deficit in housing in such areas had dropped by almost 25 percent from what was expected. According to earlier estimates, the urban development ministry was expecting a deficit of 26.5 million homes in urban areas, which now stands at 18.78 million.
She said that the addition to the housing stock in the past decade has been more than 26 million homes and the number was arrived at by analyzing household growth, which has seen slower growth, vis-a-vis housing stock which has seen an increase. Selja said that this showed that the government's policies were helping improve the lot of the economically weaker sections (EWS) and helped them climb the social ladder.
"In 2007 the housing shortage for the EWS was almost 88 percent while that for the lower income group (LIG) was 11 percent. As it stands now, the housing shortage for the EWS has gone down to 56 percent and that for LIG is come up to 40 percent. The EWS category, which was most affected earlier has come up," Selja said.
The report, which was submitted by the technical committee led by Dr Amitabh Kundu, professor of Economics at the Jawaharlal Nehru University, found the major reason of the housing shortage to be congested homes where a couple or a person above 10 years of age did not have their own room. Such homes, which accounted for 15 million homes was 80 percent of the 18.78 million estimated shortage of homes for the period 2012-2017.
The shortage was calculated by putting together the number of households residing in unacceptable dwelling unites including the obsolescence factor, those residing in unacceptable social and physical conditions and homeless households.
Kundu said that to curb this housing shortage problem, there must be a match between the people for whom the houses were being built and those that need them. "What we instead see is that almost all buyers of new housing stock already live in acceptable dwelling units and either plan on shifting from rented to self owned houses or attempting to improve their living conditions by buying bigger houses," he said.
And while the housing shortage for the Economically Weaker Sections has dipped, the EWS and Low Income Group still faces the maximum shortage in houses. According to the report, the housing shortage for the EWS stands at almost 11 million homes or 56.2 percent, while that for LIG is at 7.41 million homes or 39.5 percent.
Selja said that to reduce this gap in the demand and supply of houses, the Center, states and real estate sector need to work in tandem to build low cost housing, adding that, "These findings will be extremely helpful to policy makers in the country to improve the situation."
The report also proposed that to eliminate the shortage in housing, the sector needs to be made part of the infrastructure sector, or to be declared an industry. It also proposed bringing in the vacant houses into the housing market through taxation and incentives, enabling the creation of extra space or to build extra rooms through support from public agencies and shift households living in houses that are 80 years or older to newer units.