18 mn houses needed, 11 mn lie empty
In a country where a construction boom has created a large number of houses, many have no one to live in them and yet a larger number of people remains without a proper house. A government study has highlighted this contrast and called for measures to bridge the gap.
Till March, the shortage of housing units in urban areas was 18.7 million while over 11 million houses lay vacant, according to a technical group constituted by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation (HUPA). If 80 per cent of these vacant houses are made available in the market during 2012-17, it has pointed out, the need to build additional houses will come down by over 88 lakh units.
The report has observed, however, that it will be a challenging task to eliminate the shortage during the 12th Plan period over and above maintaining the current rate of construction, even with the full cooperation of the private sector and the builders' lobby.
The total requirement includes the number of households without a home and those living in very old, "non-serviceable" or cramped houses. The number of vacant houses has been quoted from Census-2011 — 11.09 million in urban areas, besides 0.73 million occupied but found locked.
The group, headed by JNU professor Amitabh Kundu, submitted its report last week to Minister for HUPA Kumari Selja. "A large number of houses are lying vacant for want of tenants or due to constraints in the housing market, such as lack of affordability to buy such houses. Some of these vacant houses have been purchased for investment only and are therefore not occupied," it says. At another point, it says, "The policies and programmes for dealing with the housing shortage... cannot focus on promoting construction of new units and facilitating the households already residing in decent units to acquire new houses..."
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