Over 500 million Indians will need new homes in a decade

12:44 PM, Sunday, February 5th, 2012

Indian population New Delhi : Over 500 million Indians will need new homes in almost a decade, close to the needs of China, North America and Western Europe put together, as the government and urban local bodies focus more on construction than long-term operation and maintenance, says a study.

 “We have to rethink the way we live or there is no tomorrow,” said Pradeep Puri, chairman, urban development committee of industry lobby Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), on the release of the report Sunday.

The report, Urban Infrastructure in India, said the country’s population is slated to grow to 1.7 billion by 2050 and rapid urbanization will add nearly 900 million people to Indian cities. And in just over a decade from now, nearly 500 million Indians will need new, urban homes.

According to the report, the problem is accentuated because urban local bodies (ULB) and government procurement in relation to urban infrastructure focus more on construction of the facility than on the long-term operation and maintenance of the facility.

It says that weak fiscal and financial base of Indian ULBs hampers their ability to provide efficient services to citizens. Also, there is no framework that governed maintenance of common spaces such as markets, housing colonies, bridges, footpaths, street lighting and play-grounds.

The report recommends that in respect of all Jawahar Lal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) cities and ULBs receiving project assistance from the central government, the appointment of transaction advisors (TA) should be actively encouraged for the duration of JNNURM or other central government assistance.

It says government authorities should be directed to shift the focus of their contracts for new facilities from merely construction works contracts to performance-based maintenance contracts.

Suggesting reviewing planning norms, the report says it should be efficient for both large and small cities taking into consideration the price variation.

“Indian planning norms have been borrowed mainly from the West and need important modifications. Planning norms should be efficient for large cities and small towns due to land price variation and availability of land.”

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