Government launches Global Housing Technology Challenge to build houses in shorter time
Mains Paper 1: Social Issues | Urbanization , their problems & remedies
From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:
Prelims level: GHTC
Mains level: Housing for all
- To make the construction of houses cost-effective and innovative, the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs launched the Global Housing Technology Challenge (GHTC).
Global Housing Technology Challenge (GHTC)
- The aim of the initiative — under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana Urban (PMAY-U) — is to fast-track the construction of affordable housing and meet the target of constructing 1.2 crore houses by 2022.
- GHTC-India challenge is a well-conceptualized and designed programme to bring out the most innovative, simple, effective and appropriate solutions for making housing available and affordable to the common man.
- Under the challenge, a grand expo-cum-conference on GHTC will be organised in March which will be a unique platform not only for the stakeholders but also for the States/Union Territories and technical institutions.
Affordable Sustainable Housing Accelerators
- GHTC-India challenge will also focus on identifying and mainstreaming proven demonstrable technologies for lighthouse projects and spotting potential future technologies for incubation and acceleration support through ASHA (Affordable Sustainable Housing Accelerators) — India.
Maharashtra sets up Housing Corporation for PMAY
Mains Paper2: Governance| Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States
The following things are important from UPSC perspective:
Prelims: MahaHousing Initiative
Mains level: Housing for All
- The Maharashtra state cabinet has approved the formation of MahaHousing (Maharashtra Housing Development Corporation), a dedicated housing corporation to implement the PMAY in the state.
- It plans to build 19.40 lakh houses by 2022.
- A separate mechanism was needed to speed up the process of building houses in the stipulated time frame.
- The projects are being implemented by the Housing Department, Maharashtra Affordable Housing and Development Authority (MHADA), and local civic bodies.
- The projects also include public-private partnership and joint ventures.
- Projects for economically backward classes, low income and middle income groups will get an FSI (floor Space index) of 2.5, while those in green zones or no-development zones will get 1 FSI.
Structure and Functioning
- MahaHousing will work till 2022, or till the time PMAY continues.
- The CM will be its president, while the Housing Minister will be the additional president.
- A non-government member will be joint president.
- A government-appointed CEO will work as its managing director. The entire staff of the corporation will be outsourced.
- Funding for MahaHousing will be raised from share investment by MHADA, Slum Rehabilitation Authority, Shivshahi Punarvasan Prakalp Ltd. and other interested government bodies.
- Besides, the corporation is allowed to raise money through loans from banks and financial institutions.
How to make affordable housing more attractive
Mains Paper 1: Social issues | Urbanization , their problems & remedies
From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:
Prelims level: PMAY, Floor Space Index, PMAY
Mains level: Measures for increasing affordability of Housing for all initiative
Carpet (floor) Area has been increased by 33% to qualify for Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Urban) Subsidies
- The initiative, ‘Housing for All by 2022’ is the central pivot around which the government’s efforts are concentrated. This, in turn, covers different aspects like rental and affordable housing.
- Roping in the private sector under the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) model is the key solution.
What more is needed to increase affordability?
Among other initiatives, the government needs:
- to grant infrastructure status to the entire real estate industry making long-term financing easy for the industry
- fix GST rate for all types of housing at 6%
- revise carpet area to 60 sq. mt including in metro cities (to qualify for subsidy)
- make land available at subsidized rates in metros and tier 1 cities so that the projects can be viable
- reduce premium on additional FSI (floor space index) to encourage affordable housing within metro cities and
- also reduce time taken and cost of permissions and clearances.
Permitting higher Floor Space Index
- Land in metros forms a significant proportion of the project cost and renders such projects unviable for the affordable segment.
- Policies should be formulated wherein land can be provided at rates that make the affordable projects viable.
- Land can be provided to develop composite projects where one segment, say, LIG (lower income group) is cross-subsidised by the revenues earned from the other segment, say HIG (higher income group).
- If such corridors allow for high density development, a higher FSI can be permitted, with an incremental benefit of FSI being applied towards affordable housing.
- The government should provide incentives to private players who use technology to deliver quality product.
- Such standardisation may further improve efficiency and make construction of homes like a manufacturing set-up.
Rewarding developers for last mile connect
- Availability of land in cities at affordable pricing is one of the major challenges.
- The government could facilitate the development of affordable housing by making surplus land held by PSUs (Public Sector Undertakings) available for affordable housing projects.
- Land is a state subject and that adds another layer of complexity.
- The central government should guide the states on programmes to allocate and incentivise the usage of land for affordable housing, while also incentivising state governments to facilitate engagement and implementation.
- It is also recommended to incentivise developers for infrastructure and last mile connectivity development in semi-urban centres.
Allotting land parcels at subsidized costs
- The recent move to raise the carpet area and the RBI’s revision of housing loan limits for priority sector lending (PSL) eligibility will help bring most of the under-construction dwelling units in urban India under the purview of the CLSS.
- This will not only bolster homebuyer sentiments, but also further propel construction activity in the affordable housing sector. However, the next steps for the government should be:
- Look at the benefits for developers. Elements like reduction in construction inputs should now be a priority.
- To make optimum use of the initiative from a consumer’s standpoint, the land allotment should be at better locations and subsidized costs.
- Focus should be on building a holistic environment that incorporates infrastructure and social facilities. Access to holistic livelihood facilities will be key in determining the success of the initiative
Cuts for flagship urban schemes
- News: The annual allocation for Smart city mission is reduced to Rs.3,205 crore as against previous year’s Rs.7,060 crore
- AMRUT has also faced a massive budget cut, which will impact the govt.’s flagship urban policies
- Reason: The Union Budget’s primary focus was on addressing rural distress
- Challenge: Officials pointed out that successful implementation of the I and the II phases of the Smart City Mission would need Rs. 10,000 crore
- AMRUT: A policy that aims to transfer powers of designing and building cities to municipalities
Govt. to hike housing subsidy for beedi workers & miners
- Context: The govt’s ambitious ‘Housing for All’ project aims to build 2 crore houses in five phases till 2021-22
- News: The labour minister has proposed a nearly 4-fold increase in the housing subsidy for beedi workers and miners employed in non-coal mines
- Reason: To bring the housing scheme for beedi and mine workers in line with the National Housing Scheme
- How? Currently, the workers receive Rs. 40,000, which will be increased to Rs. 1.5 lakh under the present Revised Integrated Housing Scheme of 2007
Govt nod for building 80000 houses for poor
- Context: Prime Minister’s Awas Yojana
- News: Over 80000 houses will be built in urban areas in seven states for the Ecnomically Weaker Sections
- Central govt. will give assistance at the rate of Rs 1.5 lakh for each house
- Nodal Agency: Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation
25% of JNNURM houses built across the country still to be occupied
- JNNURM was brought to a close by 31.3.2014 by the earlier govt. and the present govt. has extended time for completion of housing projects.
- The good performers in respect of occupation of JNNURM houses are Tripura followed by WB, Bihar, Jharkhand, Odisha, Assam, Manipur and Jharkhand.
- The occupancy in the states of HP, Chattisgarh, Maharashtra, AP is well below 50%.
Unregulated urbanisation to blame: CSE experts
Chennai could have fared better, had it protected and preserved its natural water bodies and drainage channels.
- It is a reminder of increasing frequency of such freak weather events across the Indian sub-continent.
- The lakes of Chennai have a natural flood discharge channel which drains the spillover.
- But. the construction over many of these water bodies, have blocked the smooth flow of water.
- CSE’s research shows that Chennai had more than 600 waterbodies in the 1980s, but reduced to mere few recently.
HUPA to add 2,28,204 housing units in 5 States
Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation (HUPA) has authorized the construction of 2,28,204 housing units for economically weaker sections.
- Currently, the govt. is battling the housing shortage of 18.78 million units.
- Most of this shortage is driven by low income populations who live in and around the urban centres.
- The clearance will fill the housing stock to some degree only if the financial devolution happens smoothly.
- It will cover 5 States—AP, Telengana, TN, GJ and Rajasthan.
Centre takes steps to speed up affordable housing schemes
Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation along with other ministries will set up a system through which affordable housing projects are cleared at a faster pace.
- The govt. is battling a housing deficit of 18.78 million units, of which economically weaker population requires 95% of housing units.
- The Centre is urging states to reduce stamp duties, registration and conversion fee.
- This will help in quickly filling the housing stock for the poor and low-income people across 989 cities.
The main hurdles in filling the housing stock are :
- Shortage of land in urban areas
- Stringent land use regulations
- Inadequate infrastructure to support more housing neighbourhoods
- Rising costs of construction material
- Insufficient financing
- Restricted mortgage financing
- Rent control laws
Centre clears first batch of flagship urban projects
This is for the first time that the ministry approved State level plans, unlike the past practice of appraising and approving individual projects.
- The the Urban Development Ministry has cleared the first batch of projects under the AMRUT mission for 89 cities worth Rs.2,786 crore.
- The focus of the urban renewal projects would be on establishing infrastructure that could ensure adequate water supply and robust sewerage networks.
- The ministry has asked the States to install water meters at the homes of consumers.
Rs. 120 Crore for urban renewal plan
All city-level plans will be aggregated into State Annual Action Plans and sent to the Ministry for approval.
- As a part of AMRUT, the money, for the first time, will be directly transferred to Municipal Councils nationwide.
- The present funds will cover 482 cities with Rs. 25 lakh for each.
- Unlike JNNURM where state was the deciding authority, AMRUT empowers city councils.
States must strengthen urban local bodies: Venkaiah
- Without devolution of powers and funds to urban local bodies as per the 74th Amendment, urban schemes cannot be successfully implemented.
- The 14th Finance Commission has granted Rs. 87,143 crore against Rs. 23,111 crore by 13th Finance Commission which is a substantial increase of four times for urban local bodies.
[op-ed snap] Challenges of rapid and unplanned urbanisation
Cities are struggling with huge infrastructure deficits: congestion, lack of affordable housing, poor sewage facilities, inadequate water supply.
- Delhi is choking on toxic air. Bangalore is submerged in garbage. Chennai is parched & Mumbai is running out of space.
- Things are worse in Tier II, III and IV cities, where adherence to norms and standards is poor and monitoring and punishment for violations, non-existent.
- Essentially, JNNURM has been rebranded as the Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transportation.
- JNNURM was stymied by issues like land acquisition and the incapacity of city officials to handle large projects.
- India is the only G-20 country that does not have empowered or elected mayors, despite the 74th Amendment.
- More local autonomy is a must if cities are to fix themselves and invest wisely in creating the infrastructure they need.