Minister of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation Shri M.Venkaiah Naidu said that final meeting of concerned ministers and secretaries on streamlining of approvals for construction projects in urban areas will be held and it will also be attended by the Cabinet Secretary. Addressing a National Workshop on Affordable Housing and Habitat Policies here, he said that ‘enhancing ease of doing business’ has acquired urgency in the context of launch of Housing for All Mission.
Shri Venkaiah Naidu informed that four rounds of meetings with Ministers of Finance, Defence, Culture, Civial Aviation, Environment and Forests & Climate Change and respective secretaries have so far been held in this regard and considerable progress has been achieved towards speedy clearances for construction projects.
The Minister said that with in 4 months of launch of Prime Minister’s Awas Yojana (PMAY), 20 states have identified 989 cities for taking up housing projects for urban poor. He also informed that 140 lending agencies have signed Memorandums of Understanding with Central Nodal Agencies like National Housing Bank and Housing and Urban Development Corporation (HUDCO) for extending financial support to housing projects under Credit Linked Subsidy component of the urban housing mission. These agencies include : 54 scheduled commercial banks, 63 housing finance corporations, 16 Regional Rural Banks and 7 Cooperative Banks.
Shri Naidu expressed hope that with the initiatives of the central government including interest subsidy of an unprecedented 6.50% on housing loans, the mission will succeed in building 2 cr houses in urban areas by the year 2022.
The Minister observed that since the launch of new urban initiatives by the central government, there has been a new awakening among the people in urban areas and a new consciousness among urban local bodies in their approach towards urban governance. Shri Naidu noted that 85 urban local bodies have developed their own websites and 30 have launched Face Book pages besides being active on MyGov.in to enlist ideas from citizens for formulation of smart city plans. “This is clearly a leap forward on the part of the urban local bodies which were known for their isolated, insulated, non-responsive, non-interactive and non-citizen friendly governance till recently” he said.
Shri Naidu noted that the key challenges in promoting housing stock in urban areas : shortage of land supply in urban areas, stringent land use regulations, inadequate infrastructure to support high density, high cost of construction materials, insufficient financing, restricted mortgage financing and rent control laws.
The Minister urged the states to consider waiving or reducing stamp duty, registration fees, land conversion fee and other such duties to promote affordable housing projects. He said that Affordable Housing and Habitat Policies of states should focus on:
-Evolving state specific models since one size fits all policy does not work;
-Affordable housing as a part of larger eco-system (habitat);
-Ensuring required social and physical infrastructure connectivity;
-Providing linkages with transportation and livelihoods;
-Promoting private sector investments in a big way;
-Availability of land and finance and
-Promotion of appropriate cost effective and sustainable construction technologies.
Shri Venkaiah Naidu gave a detailed account of initiatives by the government for developing construction industry including tax incentives, Credit Risk Guarantee Fund for low income housing, relaxation of FDI norms, allowing External Commercial Borrowings for affordable housing, setting up Real Estate Investment Trusts etc.
Dr.Nandita Chatterjee, Secretary(Housing & Urban Poverty Alleviation) has said that over 31 % of country’s population is living in urban areas which account only for 3.10% of country’s geographical areas making land in urban areas a scarce resource.
Senior officials from states and other stakeholders including construction sector representatives attended the day long workshop.