By Murari Chaturvedi
Property rates have gone out of reach for most of the people throughout the country. At the same time there is staggering dimensions of housing shortage in urban as well as rural areas. Long term goals and strategies are urgently needed to solve the eternal housing shortage. The word “affordable” has lost its relevance in housing industry. And yet we need houses for masses and the poor. To construct houses for them enormous funds are required along with constructive participation with the government departments and agencies involved in housing construction. But the first thing is to create funds. The need of the hour is to establish ‘National Shelter Fund’ for the development of rental housing stock throughout the country. We have ample Forex reserves which can be definitely directed to create National Shelter Fund. Corporate India can and should also contribute to the corpus of the National Shelter Fund. We can also adopt the Singapore model to create funds for housing by tapping provident funds and other such avenues. A tiny percentage from the various taxes, the Government collects, can also be invested for creating the shelter fund, which can fund the development of rental housing to different income groups, especially the low income and the middle classes.
The task force of the Planning Commission on Shelter must take the lead in creating rental housing. The fund can also be enhanced by the government sponsored Real Estate Mutual Funds. Housing construction industry require huge investment hence it is important to generate dedicated funds for the large scale shelter needs A very small fraction from provident fund can also be invested in National Shelter Fund as is being done in Singapore. The housing front is most vital for national economy and human settlement. National Housing Policy have clearly admitted this fact and have stressed the need for all efforts for the development of housing stock in the country. Shelter concerns all and hence deserves orchestrated and dedicated efforts from the government through its various organizations. Thus a centralized shelter fund is needed to build the nation. The concept of affordable housing can be fulfilled by creating houses on rental basis for all sections of the society.
By Murari Chaturvedi