An exclusive Karnataka Affordable Housing Act and a single-window clearance to reduce waiting time for approval of housing projects are what real estate developers say will help poor families buy homes.
The longer it takes to sanction plans the costlier homes will get, making affordability irrelevant, they argue.
Ramesh Ramanathan of the NGO, Janaagraha, who is involved in the establishment of affordable homes in the Hosur-Anekal region, told Deccan Herald: “The biggest stumbling block to constructing affordable homes in quick time is the myriad and high number of clearances that have to be sought to commence the project.”
An exclusive law for affordable homes is the best thing the State government can do to help low-income families, he said. “Let the government also notify rules under the new Act and make clear how they have to be followed. Once there is a separate Act, commencement and execution of a project would be quick,” he explained.
The problem of delayed sanction has been mentioned to the government time and again, but nothing seems to be happening on the ground. A developer, who did not want to be identified, said that almost 20 clearances had to be sought, while others said the number was way higher. With too many departments to approach, builders will have to wait to commence their projects.
For quite sometime now, real estate players and developers like Mantri, Brigade, Salarpuria, Sobha and others have sought single-window clearance for housing plans across categories, in particular for affordable homes. Ramanathan underscores the importance of an exclusive Act. “In the affordable housing sector, nearly 60 per cent of the buyers are families with low incomes who opt for one-bedroom apartments, 30 per cent would be middle-class preferring two-bedroom houses and the rest upper middle class and the elites,” he explained. “When you consider the nature of market in the affordable apartment segment, two-thirds will be buyers preferring single-bedroom flats and one-third double-room apartments. So if the Act is passed and plan sanctions are streamlined, affordable housing will grow rapidly.”
Nagaraj Reddy, president of the Karnataka Chapter of the Confederation of Real Estate Developers Associations of India (Credai), concedes there is no exclusive Act for weaker sections. “But you will find that there are certain norms to follow with regard to Economically Weaker Sections. There is a reference to EWS both in the Central and State housing laws. As for an affordable homes Act, the concept of affordability will have to be defined clearly and different levels of affordability outlined only after which can the Act be envisaged.”
Reddy says there are few private players in the affordable/budget sector. “Who is taking up housing for weaker sections? The government has to do it, but is not doing it. And if the number of private players is very low, what will incentivise them to participate in this? What is affordable to me may not be affordable to you. Let us get this clear before we set on a new Act.”