Narendra Modi, Singapore, and low-cost housing

India needs about 20 million low-cost homes in urban area and 45 million in rural area.

Roti, Kapda aur Makan, an Urdu phrase popularised by Indira Gandhi in late 1960s seems to have found a new taker in Narendra Modi.

In a bid to provide people with the basic requirements of life and in order to realise his Government’s agenda of providing low-cost housing to all, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on July 2, sought the help of Singapore — a country which is a pioneer in the field of public housing with 82 per cent of its resident population living in public-built houses.

Narendra Modi, as the Chief Minister of Gujarat, had launched the Chief Minister Housing Scheme. It was especially designed for the lower and the middle income earning class. Now, Modi as Prime Minister wants to implement a similar scheme at the national level. But for such large-scale low-cost housing, the Government would need expertise.

Hence, Narendra Modi brought up the issue when Singapore’s Minister for Foreign and Law K Shanmugam called on him in New Delhi for discussions on ways to expand cooperation between the two countries in various areas. The Prime Minister told K Shanmugam that Government of India has laid thrust on providing low-cost housing for all and in this context he sought the help of Singapore’s expertise, a PMO statement said.

Stating that the Government is committed to its endeavour to have housing for all by 2022, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley allocated Rs 4000 crore for affordable housing in Union Budget 2014, which he presented in the Parliament on July 10.

The BJP had promised in its election manifesto to adopt a low-cost housing policy that would ensure every family in India a home by 2022.

Though, it will be a tough job for the Modi Government. According to a report in the Economic Times, India needs about 20 million low-cost homes in urban area and 45 million in rural area.

To elaborate on its feasibility, a low-cost housing project in Boisar near Mumbai is a case in point. At Boisar, an industrial town 100 km north of Mumbai, Tata Housing is close to completing the construction of 1200 ‘cheap homes’. The homes, supposed to be cheap, are no more so as, disappointed with the lower profit margin, the developer has raised prices.

“It is a tough model,” said Brotin Banerjee, CEO of Tata Housing to Reuters. Tata Housing has invested up to Rs 40 billion in low-cost homes, with about 20,000 units built or under construction across the country.


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