Ensuring a better urban living for future generations by reducing poverty and inequality is the need of the hour. A look by K. Sukumaran

In recent times, there has been a plethora of new launches in the real estate sector. Some of them project the formation of living spaces like new cities, urban layouts, high rises with ultramodern facilities etc. What do these trends indicate? Can we guess what the future holds for the sector, especially the housing segment?

Over the years, the residential requirements of a person or family has grown from minimum living space to luxurious living like palatious bungalows with grand sitting rooms, jacuzzis/ pools, tennis courts, jogging tracks, golf courses and what not. An analysis of the past and the present trends leads us to believe that the future residential constructions may encompass sprawling estate complexes with amenities like cine theatre and helipads. Whether the availability of land will meet the requirements of all activities — industrial, office and residential — is a moot point.

This is where one may need to have a look at the U.N. Habitat Programme. The developing scenario in our cities does not appear to be in line with the U.N. Habitat vision for urban development planning and in all probability against the long-term interests of the average prospective home owners in urban or even rural habitats.

Housing holds a priority in the development plans of every country in recent years. The U.N. Habitat model project for 2013-14 focuses on building a brighter future for developing cities. It aims at systematic urban development through planning of various inputs, legislation, upgrading of amenities etc. A better urban living for future generations is the main objective, thus reducing poverty and inequalities.

The U.N. Habitat Vision 2013-14 has the following focus areas:

Urban legislation, land and governance.

Urban planning and design

Urban economy

Urban basic services

Housing and slum upgrading

Risk reduction and rehabilitation

Urban research and capacity development

The urban themes embrace key items such as mobility, safety, energy saving and efficiency, water supply and conservation, sanitation etc. The U.N theme has even gender-related issues such as land ownership solely and primarily to women quite unrelated to men, which was not hither to available in some societies

What changes in approach can be thought of?

Fire fighting plans may not mitigate the confusion prevailing today. The government cannot escape from its basic role of providing basic habitation to all citizens. Even the private sector which is spearheading the real estate development these days needs guidance. No development can help a national cause unless the State takes up the role of a promoter. Promoting any sector has to be the fundamental right and responsibility of the State and real estate cannot be an exception. No government can overlook the need for planning and execution of such plans on a continuous basis for the massive commercial growth taking place around us. An integrated approach to the residential and commercial space for various sections of the community is the need of the hour. A balanced use of ‘available’ land for multi-uses like roads, industries, infrastructure need to be drawn up at the first instance. The local bodies which consider and sanction various project plans need to be given guidelines for fixing the total projects coming up in a town or city. The climate changes, carbon emissions from various sources like industry, transport etc., and other challenges to human habitation need to be taken into account as otherwise an unlimited growth line can destroy the efforts for better living for future generations.