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Urban ministry lauds slums shouldn’t be uprooted: Hardeep Singh Puri


Wednesday, October 04, 2017

New Delhi, October 4, 2017:
The new Minister of Housing & Urban Affairs Hardeep Singh Puri categorically stated that the urban slums will not be uprooted but will provide all civic amenities so they can access pakka road, water sanitation & electricity etc. at an ASSOCHAM event held in New Delhi today.

We are promoting in-situ rehabilitation of existing slum dwellers by using land as a resource for the participation of the private sector, whereby new multi-storied residential blocks can be constructed by the developers by clearing up space presently occupied by slum dwellings and raising capital by monetising the value of the cleared land by constructing high-value real estate, said Mr Hardeep Singh Puri, Minister State (I/C), Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs while inaugurating an ASSOCHAM National Summit on Housing for All at New Delhi.
With many slums usually located in prime locations in the city, the value of the land can yield sufficient surpluses to pay for the construction of new houses for those who currently reside there. This is a win-win model, whereby the slum dweller gets a proper house in the same location, avoiding displacement and retaining their existing connections with livelihoods and services like healthcare and education for their families.
The recently introduced Goods and Services Tax (GST) has also been a landmark reform. It will dismantle various tax barriers to create a single, unified market with tax transparency and predictability and will improve the efficiency of the supply chain for housing, said Mr Puri, Minister of Housing and Urban Affairs.
Mr. Puri further said that large country like India has to have a single unified rate. There is also dislocation for some people who are not used to the ideas of being taxed. In the first few months some dislocation is expected but shall pay in the long run.    
‘The modernisation and digitisation of land records is essential to have an efficient land market, and my ministry is encouraging all states to adopt Land Tilting Laws that will speed up this process’.
We must overcome our despondency and distrust. This is the first step in building strong and healthy communities where individual and families can prosper. While the government can do its bit, you too have a significant role in creating healthy urban ecosystem, said Mr Puri.
The implementation of the mission has to speed up if we are to meet our goal of building 20 million affordable houses in 4,041 urban centres by 2022. My ministry is making best efforts to think out-of-the-box. We will soon launch a housing technology challenge whereby we hope to find solutions for speedier construction of homes. 
We are preparing a new urban hosing and habitat policy that will take a holistic view of the needs of the sector. Mr Puri further said the housing mission is one of a number of missions that have been launched by my ministry, including the Swachh Bharat Mission, the Smart city mission, the Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT) and the Urban Livelihoods Mission, noted Mr. Puri.
These are all integrated and converged with the ‘housing for all mission’- even the new transportation policy, which will provide affordable and accessible transport to our citizens.
In addition to the demand side and supply side interventions, my ministry is working on a number of initiatives that are related to the enabling ecosystem required for achieving housing for all.
The fourth industrial revolution will build the IT sector and it will be revolving around urban services. The housing for all in the Indian context will be a very significant component of this fourth industrial revolution and hope private sector will take advantage of it.
The scale of the challenge is huge. The technical group on Urban Housing Shortage, set up in 2012, estimated a shortage of 18.78 million housing units in the country. The gap is almost entirely in the poorer and marginalised sections of our society: the economically weaker section, which alone accounts for over 56% of the total shortage. Another 40% of the shortage comes from low income group.
Between them, they call for the construction of 18 million units whereas the remainder is needed to house the higher income groups. However, we must note that the technical group also found that 11.07 million houses were lying vacant, and these houses were all built for the higher income groups. Thus, it becomes very clear that the market has simply catered to the requirements of a limited high end section that is characterized by a separate set of problems and has at the same time forgotten to supply houses where they are needed most. The poor continue to live in slums and decrepit old houses.
Mr. Pradeep Aggarwal, Chairman, Signature Global said, In the last Union Budget presentation, affordable housing got accorded with Infrastructure status, thus signalling a strong government support for the same. The reinforcement was never late as after GST's implementation, hopes were high that either this segment would be kept out of the ambit or the lowest bracket would be provided. With prices going up post the tax reform, government will have to find out ways of minimising the effect of this rise on the average Indian homebuyers. Banks will have to be pushed to further lower down on their lending rates, ensuring that the end payout remains the same in case of property purchases. Keeping the affordable housing segment out of GST's ambit have been a good move but measures for the removal of stamp duty charges must be taken into consideration to further lower the burden off the mid-segment buyers.

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