Govt.'s approach raises demand for houses

Bangalore Dec. 24. Never before has any Government embarked upon a housing programme on such a massive scale as the Karnataka Government has.

By the time, the S.M. Krishna Government's tenure is over next year, Karnataka would have added over 11 lakh houses during the term, addressing the basic needs of the poorer sections and the middle class.

This, according to sources in the Housing Department, has been possible due to the Government having changed its approach to housing, building reasonably "good" houses at affordable prices and where there is demand.

This was not the case some years ago when a majority of the houses built were in locations that were not at all sought after. Hence, the backlog of unsold houses to the extent of 4,500 across the State remains.

The agencies in housing activity in the State such as the Karnataka Housing Board (KHB), the Karnataka Slum Clearance Board (KSCB), and the Rajiv Gandhi Rural Housing Corporation have been attempting to erase the stigma of the past.

Now, there is an unbelievable demand for houses built by these agencies.

The turnaround, states B.R. Hosur, Assistant General Manager, KHB, has been possible due to the determination of the Government to ensure that that the dwelling needs of the needy were taken seriously by the implementing agencies. The Government has been on track as far as its promise of launching "100 housing projects" during its term goes.

Already 57 projects are in different stages of completion and the Government has assured that the remaining will be launched soon, says Mr. Hosur.

The agencies, driven by market forces, have got into an aggressive mode, and work is going on at a fast pace in Chitradurga, Hospet, Gadag, Haveri, Hubli and other places. Keeping a tab on the work are private project management consultants and a panel of 40 architects, and this is a first for the KHB, which has empanelled them.

The Rajiv Gandhi Rural Housing Corporation has completed 5.65 lakh houses, of which 4.63 lakh are in rural areas and the feature of the housing project is that the beneficiaries are all women. According to S.T. Kumar, Assistant Director, the beneficiaries have to pay a nominal amount for either a site or a house under the Ashraya scheme.

Under the Ashraya urban housing scheme, the beneficiary has to make a minimum contribution of Rs. 5,000 and the loan made available is Rs. 25,000, which has to be repaid over 15 years at an EMI rate of Rs. 290.

Under the rural Ashraya housing scheme, there is a subsidy of Rs. 10,000 for general category of beneficiaries and Rs. 20,000 for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.

The KSCB with the assistance of the Union Government has also taken up the "Vambay" (Valmiki Ambedkar Awas Yojana) under which Karnataka has built 10,312 houses in the first phase of 2000-01, 10,000 houses in the second phase, and 11,970 in the third phase all of which would be completed by early next year.

Despite all these efforts, according to Mr. Hosur, the number of people who are homeless seems to be increasing and the reasons for this are many.

In Karnataka, the number of slums has been put at 2,385 with the number of slum-dwellers put at over 30 lakh. Bangalore city alone has 204 declared slums and the number seems to be growing.

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