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Sitting in his sea-facing room, Durga Shankar Mishra, Secretary, Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA), was exhausted due to back-to-back meetings with state functionaries, and the Prime Minister’s address to investors followed by a plenary session in the recently held AIIB 3rd AGM in Mumbai. Meanwhile, he was under pressure too as, before our candid interaction, the PM made a mention of the PMAY and its overall progress on a global platform. That said, just a casual request for a quick interview by INFRASTURCTURE TODAY, turned into sea of information as Mishra was at his best while sharing what exactly the government is doing on India’s pain topic–housing.
As a part of that vision, two programmes have been launched–Prime Minister Awaas Yojana-Urban (PMAY-U) for which our department is responsible and Prime Minister Awaas Yojana-Rural (PMAY-R) for which the rural ministry is responsible.
In a study carried out by the then planning commission in 2011, under the PMAY-U, an estimation was made based on certain data figures, which spelled out a requirement of nearly 10 million houses. This is the baseline, because a lot of houses have been constructed from 2011 onwards through public funding, state funding, or other such.
We are addressing this demand through four verticals. One is beneficiary-led construction where the person has a house, but the house has limited facilities for the growing family members. In this case, the house owner can either upgrade the house or construct a new adding a few floors. The government will help such house owners with constructions of up to 30 sq m, for which the government pays Rs 1.5 lakh of subsidy. Apart from the central government, the state governments too give subsidies that range from Rs 50,000 to as much as Rs 6 lakh, depending on financial resources.
Meanwhile, the second category is affordable housing in partnership with public or private. These houses are constructed on public or private lands, for which we have prepared eight kinds of PPP models (six for public and two for private). We encourage state housing boards and development authorities, as well as private bodies to participate in this category. These bodies can construct houses–multi-storeyed, perhaps–and avail additional floor space index (FSI).
The state can support this initiative by providing adequate and basic infrastructure. Here again, the Government of India provides a subsidy of Rs 1.5 lakh per house, whereas subsidies from the state government vary from Rs 50,000 to 6 lakh. So far, we have sanctioned 18.25 lakh houses. That accounts to 36 per cent. The third category is slum development. This scheme is specifically for large cities that struggle with slums on public and private lands. So here is an opportunity for us to convert slum areas into liveable places, offering better standards of living for people. At present, these slums do not have adequate water, sewage, lights, or sanitation facilities to name a few. It is a mixed development and the Government of India pays Re 1 lakh per house in this case.
In a city like Mumbai, under the slum rehabilitation scheme, slum redevelopment houses are provided without any charge for those slums that have been habituated before January 2000. So it is a zero cost for them. Here, we are constructing 4.33 lakh houses, which is nearly 8 per cent.
To avail this scheme, the ownership of the house should either be in the sole name of the female member of the household or be a joint ownership between the husband and the wife. However, this condition will not be made mandatory in cases of constructing houses on an existing plot, or extension or renovation of an existing kuccha or semi-pucca house.
The carpet area of houses under this scheme should be up to 30 sq m for economically-weaker section (EWS) beneficiaries and up to 60 sq m for low-income group (LIG) beneficiaries.
So we have already formulated a plan and are in the process of getting sanctions to host the Global Construction Technology challenge in India. We will be inviting technology from companies in any part of the world, who can adhere to our National Building Code and provide necessary technologies But within that code, they can actually do the work and demonstrate how construction can be done much faster and, importantly, cost-effective way using the new technology.
Consider this: India’s population in urban areas, according to the 2011 census was 377 million, which is 31.2 per cent. We are projected to touch 600 million urban population by 2030. And by 2050, our population is going to touch 800 million. These numbers reinforce the need to construct many houses in the years to come. So the whole world is seeing us as a big opportunity. We want to use this chance and leverage it to bring the best technology into India.
We found that some technologies are akin to a particular kind of a manufacturer or builder who has brought it, and so has added some changes. We found that there are eight of them. I was able to get the schedule of rates (SORs) for all these eight technologies, to be notified by the Central Public Works Department (CPWD). Once the SOR is notified by the CPWD, they will adopt it. In turn, all government agencies in India will adopt it and most of the state governments shall adopt it too.Already, out of 28 lakh houses which are under construction, 7.2 lakh houses – nearly 25 per cent– are being constructed under the new technology. We have also issued orders to CPWD and NBCC to consider new technologies for work value more than Re 1 billion.
- RAHUL KAMAT
(This is the first version of our hour-long interview with Durga Shankar Mishra. Watch this space for the second version in our Annual Edition, scheduled in October 2018.)