The bjp in its election manifesto had promised ‘Housing for All by 2022’, when the nation would celebrate its diamond jubilee of independence. The NDA government seems to be in an overdrive to achieve that, as Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself has adopted the mantra ‘scale and speed’.
The National Real Estate Developers Council (NAREDCO), which held its Xllth National Convention at New Delhi last fortnight, had the government’s motto as its theme and urban development minister M. Ven- kaiah Naidu and environment & forest minister Prakash Jawadekar have promised to facilitate easy approvals and clearances to achieve the target.
“The implementation of the National Housing policy will require changes in master plan for urban development and funds up to ?12 lakh crore a year,” said Sunil Mantri, president, NAREDCO, who is also chairman, Mantri Realty, Mumbai. “We, therefore, urged the government to make available low-cost funds at least for affordable housing and encourage foreign direct investments in the sector and take steps to implement single window system for clearance of real estate projects across the country.” The convention issued a ‘Delhi Declaration’ at the end of the two- day meet, welcoming the government’s commitment to clear various bottlenecks in implementing the policy and adopting a PPP model to develop mass, affordable housing. “The developer community will be more than happy to be a valuable stake holder,” it said.
Mantri was particularly happy that Naidu was enthusiastic to achieve the gigantic target. “We asked for an infrastructure status for the housing industry and Naidu is exploring the possibility of priority lending to the sector. I think, things are moving in the right direction,” he said and pointed out that realty contributes handsomely to the GDP and supports about 250 other industries and generates massive employment.
Comprehensive policy Naidu disclosed that the government launched consultations with various stake holders and all the chief ministers to come out with a comprehensive policy on housing. Since the government alone cannot implement the gigantic mission of ensuring housing for all, the PPP model will be adopted for the task, he said and called upon the developer community to actively join hands. The various schemes like JNNURM, Indira Awas Yojana amd Rajv Rinn Yojana will all be merged into one scheme under National Housing Mission.
Jawadekar told the convention that he has begun to simplify the process of clearances. For instance, permissions for projects up to 40 hectares can now be given at state and city levels. He called upon the developer community to work out norms for sand mining since such uncontrolled activity is causing to floods.
He lamented that, even after 67 years of Independence, housing remains a dream for many. The people are forced to build houses even on river beds, he said and pointed out that the loss of many lives in the Jammu & Kashmir floods proved this.
According to Mantri, project clearances are being held up for over 24 months at various government departments, which contribute to cost escalation. Land cost and taxes
contribute as much as 80 per cent of the housing, he felt and called for simplifying procedures to make housing affordable.
The developers have been complaining for long against the Land Acquisition Act passed by the UPA government, as it makes land costs prohibitive for ensuring affordable housing. Road transport & highways minister Nitin Gadkari appeared to be coming to their rescue, as he said all political parties would be consulted to make necessary changes in the Land Acquisition Act. NAREDCO called for exempting private land acquisition from the Act.
The convention also requested the Union government to give guidelines to states to ease FAR/FSI restrictions and scrapping of the reads reckoner for deciding stamp duties and pleaded with the governmen: to declare a national policy on slum rehabilitation, with incentives to developers to build free homes for the homeless poor.
“The rapid urbanisation that will be seen now onwards will need massive funding, apart from focus onl infrastructure,” said Navin Rahejr chairman, NAREDCO. “Even at the current urbanisation levels of 29 pe l cent, the infrastructure is choking and the government looks for 50 pel cent urbanisation over the years.
♦ LANCELOT JOSeJ