Business Standard | No shortage of land or funds for affordable housing projects: Hardeep Puri

Sep 23,2018

Union minister Hardeep Singh Puri asked the real estate players to come up with bankable projects' for affordable housing as there was no shortage of land or funds in the country.

Addressing a conference on Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Urban) Housing for All by 2022' organised by industry body FICCI in Delhi, he said there has been a criminal neglect of urban planning for the 67 years which has led to current problems in urban sector.

(It is) important to acknowledge when urban planning goes wrong and in India, the urban planning has not just gone wrong, there has been criminal neglect of urban planning for 67 years, the housing and urban affairs minister said, blaming the previous governments, primarily the Congress.

Asking the builders to invest in affordable housing sector in a big way, the minister said, I don't think there is any shortage of land in India. There is no shortage of funds as well. If you come (real estate players) up with a good bankable project, you can raise the money inside the country and you can do so outside the country."

He also discarded the notion that people would be provided accommodation at far flung places from the main city where they live in slums and said the government wanted good houses to be built at the slum location itself.

Highlighting the government's achievements, he said Delhi has crossed 250 km of metro network and was on the way of having the fourth largest metro system in the world.

India will have 700 km of metro network soon, he said, adding I don't get excited because China has 600-700 km every year. But we will get there also.

Referring to Kathputli Colony redevelopment issue, he said the distortion that emerged in the urban space were manipulated by the vested interest people and said when it was announced that slum dwellers would be provided accommodation, there were higher number of applicants who claimed the benefits.

One of the lessons, I have learnt which is true in almost all the field of activity that I am involved is that democracy has two other defining features one is whole concept and practice of victimhood and the other is populism.

There are any number of people available at any time to lend their services to the whole growing crescendo of victimhood, he said, adding that poor who actually have to get benefitted get manipulated.

He said there was distortion in the real estate market due to a number of other factors, including absence of regulator for the last 70 years and credited the NDA government for the passage of Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act which would address the problems of real estate sector.

However, he said the problem did not end with the passage of the real estate bill as some state governments "tweaked their laws in favour of builders, keeping ongoing projects out of the purview of the Act."

He said housing sector in cities, particularly the affordable housing segment, was a vital engine of economic growth.

Investment in real estate catalyses job creation, grows wages, and increases the exchequer's tax revenue. Its impact on sectors ranging from steel and cement to financial and land markets, has few comparisons. Moreover, owning a home is considered a sign of upward social mobility as it provides a sense of security to owner, he said.

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