I recently attended the 2nd Annual Affordable Housing Conference in Kuala Lumpur from July 25–27, 2011. As a Pune developer, this conference was an eye-opener for me. More than anything else, the experience reaffirmed my belief that the affordable housing projects coming up in the PCMC area are a major step forward for Pune real estate.
Experts from various real estate and housing finance verticals attended the affordable housing conference, and there was a notable representation from India as well. Of course, we all know that there is a shortage of affordable housing in India. However, I had no idea of large the national housing deficit actually is till I heard some of the facts and figures.
During the course of discussions, it became clear to me that we are still very far from the final ideal – a home for every Indian. The shortfall in housing is far too large. The estimated housing shortage from 2007-2012 in India’s urban areas is 26.5 million units, and in rural areas it is 47.4 million units. Altogether, the total housing shortage in India stands at 73.9 million units.
Let us ask ourselves some basic questions. Do we have the land, construction material and labour required to build affordable housing? We obviously do, otherwise even the costlier homes that are coming up everywhere in our cities would not be possible. The need is not for housing in remote, inaccessible areas. In today’s economic scenario, everyone – regardless of social and income grade – needs to live as close as possible to their place of work.
Everyone needs to be able to get to work and earn an income, so that they can sustain their families and contribute to the overall development of his or her city. However, affordable housing is mostly coming up in remote locations. These locations lack the kind of connectivity and infrastructure that make living there feasible and dignified. Even middle-income families are challenged to find homes within budgets of Rs. 25-40 lakh.
Obviously, attaining the dream of a home for every family is still far in the future for many cities of India. Thankfully, the nation is moving ahead rapidly in all respects. The affordable housing conference also outlined the fact that we now have newer concepts and technologies at our disposal that can indeed help us close at least a part of the existing gap.
In cities like Pune, there is an ever-increasing responsibility on planned real estate development areas like Pimpri-Chinchwad. While many of the other areas which are adding housing stock still lack the necessary infrastructure, PCMC has all the advantages of a regulated real estate market – including rational residential property rates. The integrated townships coming up here are the perfect blend of social and civic infrastructure as well as affordable prices.
Since Pimpri-Chinchwad also has a sizeable manufacturing belt, there is no shortage of employment opportunities. Here, then, is the only possibility for affordable housing for the mid-income sector that Pune has at its disposal. More than ever, I am convinced that this is where the action of the Pune real estate market is headed. Affordably priced residential property is and will remain the most important real estate sector in India.
Anil Pharande is President of CREDAI PCMC and Chairman of Pharande Spaces, a leading construction and development firm that develops township properties in the PCMC area of Pune, India.
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