After its Rs. 1 lakh car ‘Nano’, the Tata Group is all set to launch a house for nearly Rs. 32,000 aimed at rural market by the end of next year.

“At present, the housing project is in the pilot stage in 30 locations spread across the country and we are in discussions with various agencies like Coir Board, Jute Board and also State governments,” Sumitesh Das, head global research programme of Tata Steel, said.

The houses will be made in pre-fabricated, or ‘prefab’, format, under which the company will provide a kit consisting of roofs, doors, windows, etc, which can be erected or assembled.

“It is quick house built in seven days if you have a patch of land. Basic model of 20 sq metres, with flat roof will cost around 500 euros (around Rs. 32,000). Upgraded model with 30 sq metres, which is the Indira Awas Yojana model, will cost 700 euros,” Mr. Das said on the sidelines of Conference on Best Practices of Intellectual Property Management.

“Similarly there are other models which may come with a solar panel on the roof of the house,” he added.

The 2001 census places the rural housing shortage figure in India at 1.48 crore and the situation may prove to be a big bonanza for the Tatas.

Giving details of the project, Mr. Das said by the end of this year, they would get feedback from all the stakeholders like manufacturers, suppliers and various panchayats.

“In the first pilot project, we saw the interest of people in verandah which we have incorporated, though it was not there earlier. We thought if we incorporate verandah, the buying will be much higher. We need feedback from panchayats, who are our final customers,” he added.

He, however, refused to draw parallels between Nano car manufactured by Tata Motors and the 500-euro house by Tata Steel, saying that the market segments are different.

Replying to a question on the challenges that the project might face Mr. Das said, “The main challenge it may face is supply chain management due to shortage of production of panels.”

“We are in touch with Coir Board and Jute Board also. The pilot is also to see the supply chain arrangements. If a coir manufacturer cannot meet the demands, then we will have to think of some other product to replace. We have technology but we do not have entrepreneurs. That’s what we are looking for, people who can invest and make products for us,” he said.

The life of the house will be 20 years at this stage and may go up as the research goes on, he added.

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