Accommodation out of reach for most Indians

By Murari Chaturvedi

It seems that the government is hell sent on milking the cash-cow, that is real estate. This is contrary to the spirit of the constitution, which enjoins upon the government to provide a home, among other basic necessities as clean drinking water, sanitation and electricity to every citizen. It goes on increasing the burden on some pretax or the other. Recently the Delhi government has increased property rates for tax purposes, manifold. At the most, the government has created just a miniscule fraction of shoddy and uninhabitable housing structures that hardly meet the requirement. Housing is one sector where no government skills is required, and yet the biggest failure is to allow housing to grow. In addition, by introducing various distortions in the laws of the land and by imposing strictures on landholding, the government created road blocks to faster growth. Some 75 million new jobs would be created outside agriculture, enough to absorb not only the rapidly growing workforce but also most of the workers displaced by productivity improvements. It was in 1978 the Reserve Bank appointed R.C. Shah committee, had reported “Nearly 25-35 per cent of the urban population lives in slums. No precise information is available regarding the numbers of households that are homeless. The backlog of housing shortage is increasing every year as the constitution has not kept pace with population growth….”. The present condition is worst. Nearly 60 per cent population live in slums in Mumbai the urbs prima of the country. The proliferation of slums in all our cities is a failure of state planning. The host of services that city dwellers takes for granted, from maids and menials to peons and drivers are drawn mainly from the slums. Town planners are aware of this fact, but have utterly failed to make provisions for some from of cheap housing. From time to time suggestions have been made to construct low-cost houses in satellite townships around cities from where workers could be transported to their work and back home. This is the condition every where that housing is pipe dream for the people. Is it not the time that the state governments make definite plan to construct low-cost housing only, with definite time frame?

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