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Need for focus on affordable housing

M. Soundariya Preetha
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When more people move into the city in search of employment or for educational purposes, they need quality and affordable living space writesM. Soundariya Preetha

Expensive:Coimbatore needs more affordable housing. -File Photo: S. Siva Saravanan
Expensive:Coimbatore needs more affordable housing. -File Photo: S. Siva Saravanan

Rapid industrial growth in the State during the last few years has led to a boom in job opportunities in manufacturing, construction, and service sectors. Educational facilities have also improved in the State.

According to the provisional data of census 2011, Coimbatore is among the top five districts in the State where the rate of population growth (decadal) is more than the State average. Population in the district has increased by 19.06 per cent during the last 10 years as against the State average of 15.6 per cent.

In such a scenario, the need for urban housing has also increased.

President of the Indian Institute of Architects, Coimbatore, Arun Prasad explains that a city needs housing, physical and social infrastructure. The physical infrastructure includes water supply, sewage system, storm water drains, etc. The social infrastructure covers schools, hospitals and community centres. Housing is of different types such as apartments, gated communities, single-man houses (lodges, hostels), independent houses, and affordable housing.

While the other types of housing have developed in Coimbatore, hostels and affordable housing need more thrust. When more people move into the city for job and educational purposes, they need quality and affordable living space. Several options involving all the stakeholders should be considered at the earliest and the Government should initiate efforts to meet the need, he says.

An official of the Directorate of Town and Country Planning says property developers, who want to develop residential units on more than one hectare, now earmark 10 per cent of the land for development of housing for the economically weaker section.

Regulatory body

However, there should be a regulatory body to ensure that this land is used only for development of affordable housing. When the Coimbatore Master Plan review is taken up, it will consider the need to earmark space for development of housing for the economically weaker sections and to relax the rules for construction of housing for industrial workers in large numbers.

D. Balasundaram, chairman of the Chamber Economic Forum, says the initiative to develop affordable housing should come from the Government. Such structures should be developed on all arterial roads of the city. Workers do not come to the district with their families for work now as they cannot afford to take a house.

“Coimbatore is going the Mumbai way. You can easily get a job in Coimbatore but not a house at an affordable price as land costs have shot up,” he says.

Ravi Sam, chairman of the Coimbatore chapter of Confederation of Indian Industry, says industries in Coimbatore are reluctant to expand as they are unable to get land at affordable prices within or even in the fringe areas of the city. They have to move beyond the nearby towns if they want to expand production capacities.

However, workers will not be able to travel long distances for work every day. Many industries and other businesses that have workers from other districts or States now have dormitories or houses for these workers.

Coimbatore has not had major investments (each unit employing more than 500 people) in the recent past. If such large-scale industries come to Coimbatore then housing for the workers will be a problem.

A panel should be formed to discuss various measures needed to develop affordable housing. Certain areas should be identified to develop these structures, he says.

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