Public-private model needed to build houses for the poor

February 11th, 2011 - 9:56 pm ICT by IANS  

Kolkata, Feb 11 (IANS) With growing urbanisation in India, there is a need for public-private partnerships to provide affordable housing to the poor, an official said Friday.”Along with the public authorities, private players need to come together towards providing affordable housing with basic amenities to the slum dwellers,” union Urban Development Secretary Navin Kumar said Friday at ‘Sustainable Citycon 2011′ - a conference on opportunities and challenges of urbanisation in India.

Between 1991 and 2001, the urban population grew by 2.7 percent annually, with the process of urbanisation in the country marked by increased concentration in comparatively larger cities, he said.

“In 2001, 68.7 percent of the total urban population was living in class I cities (cities with population over 100,000), while 26.7 percent or roughly 80.7 million poor people live in urban areas. From 1993-94 to 2004-05, the urban poor population has increased by 4.4 millions,” he said, adding the “inevitable consequence of this population explosion is proliferation of slums”.

To tackle the problem of slums, Navin Kumar suggested that the existing slums be renovated to enable them to avail the same level of amenities as the rest of the cities they were in.

He also stressed the need for redressing the system that lies behind the creation of slums.

Navin Kumar also pitched for reservation of 22 percent to 25 percent of developed land in all new housing colonies for the economically weaker sections and for people falling in the middle and lower income groups.

On the subject of town and city planning, he said: “Urban and town planning should be performed under a master plan. In almost two-thirds of the cities in India, the master plan has not been implemented for reasons like a weak database, financial constraints, or lack of co-ordination between various implementing agencies.”

The National Urban Information System, with 158 centres across the country, has been created for facilitating effective formulation of a master plan, Navin Kumar said.

He also emphasised the need for community participation in the urban planning process. “Presently there is no provision for the public to have a say in formulation of layout plans. The public should be involved in the planning process. In countries like Singapore and Malaysia, town planning is a people’s product,” he said.

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