Thursday, June 7, 2018

A Mirage Named Affordable Homes!

“Everything needs to work at the same time. But what keeps society vibrant permanently are jobs, industry, business, and stuff like that. It pays for everything else. If you just build affordable housing, and those people don't have jobs, it'll no longer be affordable soon. So you really have to build around the business community”… Jamie Dimon.

Jamie Dimon is an American business executive. He is chairman and CEO of JPMorgan Chase, the largest of the big four American banks, and previously served on the board of directors of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Well no wonder with such an exposure to entire business fraternity Jamie has hit the nail in head of the subject which is dear (or at least it’s painted as dear) to our rulers i.e. Affordable Housing! Well, you open any new paper & when you are done with the scams as well accidents or mishaps then the news which catch your attention is about affordable housing. Agreed “roti, kapada aur makan” is tag line of our beloved country since my childhood & that’s nearly four decades back yet the “makan” seems to be a haunting term for every ruler (read govt) of this country. I wonder with the kind of frenzy in making affordable home right from “galli to dilli” means central govt in Delhi which is our countries’ capitol to PMC?PCMC & PMRDA which is “galli” means local govt, everybody seems to have only one agenda & that is affordable homes! And our State govt (I like to mention as “Mai Baap” govt) is also not behind in participating in this race to make affordable homes but only problem is nobody knows how to make a home affordable, despite so much of hohllah & efforts! Recently I read two headlines in news paper about affordable homes, one says the home sizes are shrinking to make them affordable & another was increasing upper price bar for eligibility home loans at lower interest rate of affordable homes by Reserve Bank! Incidentally there is a very famous & apt quote I remember here, “It’s not the first step but direction of that step decides where you will reach at the end of your journey”!  Well, here it’s not just first step but entire race is in wrong direction rather opposite direction is the reason we are not being able to reach the destination named affordable homes!

Many won’t agree with my statement as, what about so called “Pantapradhan Awas Yojana” by virtue of which every first flat buyer will get Rs 2 lac subsidy in his /her home price? Then look at the efforts State govt is taking to make every sq inch of land residential (NA is the key word) which eventually will make more raw material for homes available? (well, don’t mind if that’s is damaging environments as well reducing tree covers, as homes are more important than trees, isn’t it?) As well look at the development plans of cities which are being made with provisions of loads of TDR as well paid FSI types things to increase land potential, so more homes can be build on the every piece of land. And how can you forget four times FSI type provisions under name of TOD (Transportation oriented development) to make things like Metro & BRT feasible? And yes how can we forget the generosity of the govt to regularize all the possible illegal construction keeping in mind that these are poor & innocent people’s homes actually! I said, regularize possible illegal homes because there is a very bad element named High Court here in this State & it doubts very intention of the govt itself behind regularizing the so called illegal homes! Had it not been so then our govt would have erased the term “illegal” form the Development Control rules, making homes affordable for all in overnight, anyways that’s different topic! Though some fools may keep shouting about burden of civic infrastructure & encroaching every other so called environmental treasures like rivers, lakes, hills & green belts in this noble thought process of govt but look at the larger perspective; we can’t expect our citizens to reside on lakes, hills & trees, that’s what our forefathers were used to do but we are developed society & here home to every single living human being is his birth right, isn’t it?

So now it should be clear to all that our rulers means  govt seriously, dedicatedly wants that a home should be affordable to every home buyer but don’t ask why even with all this die hard efforts by the govt, homes are not being affordable to the people or else why they will be still buying flats in illegal constructions & why the cancer named slum is growing everyday in every city? As asking such question will mark you as enemy of the State & in case if you are a developer by yourself then you are more in trouble as with all these schemes, facilities & policies, as per the govt its now job of the developer only to make the affordable homes & deliver it to the needy ones! Well, now please neglect the facts like there is no control on land prices when you as a developer buy the land for making these affordable homes. Also don’t make fuss about the near impossible to follow norms like parking provisions or side margins as well ever changing urban development policies which can make your building’s design over costly, that’s not govt’s concern! And then any day you can get stop work if your project is near by a nallah or near any hill as govt wants to protect environment also while you are supposed to build affordable homes! And yes please don’t expect govt (read PMC, PMRDA, PCMC, MSEDCL, Revenue & what not) to give you any discount in any of their premiums or taxes as govt is not saying that you give these homes free of cost to the citizens, rather are you not making money by selling these affordable homes, is what govt will ask you as a developer!

Well, one more thing, while you are supposed to build affordable homes then you don’t expect that you will get finance from the govt or Nationalized Banks at cheaper rate of interest as yours is the most risky industry, is what bankers will tell you, so don’t expect finance at cheaper rate! So while you build affordable homes, you only have to carry all the risk, don’t ask how, as the govt hasn’t told you to become a builder in first place! Yes, govt (read RBI) will reduce the rate of interests on housing loans to the buyers of affordable homes as well increase the price bar of these homes but to make them available in that price is your job & not govt’s, mind it! And at the same time it’s not govt’s job to cut down on taxes like GST & lower other life style’s expenses apart from buying home. Also its not govt’s job to supply things like water, drainage, roads, street lights as well public transport to the people living in these affordable homes. Neither govt guaranties affordable education & public health along with the affordable homes for the residents of these homes; this all you as a developer has to manage! You can either collect the necessary money for these things from the home buyer (don’t mind if home doesn’t remain affordable in this process) or just tell them don’t buy flat in your project as there is a law (read act) named RERA which needs you to be transparent also while you build affordable homes!

And most important govt won’t assure security of jobs or strong financial balance sheet of their respective business for the buyers of these affordable homes. As how can you expect govt to assure some IT or auto industry guy about not getting “pink slip” on any fine morning! That security (suraksha kawach) is privilege only if you are a govt servant as like the govt hasn’t asked your builder to become a builder, the very govt hasn’t asked you to join private industry; you could have joined govt service or flew out of the country for being paid in USD! You opted to work in a private industry or thought of starting your own business here in this State then you should take care of your home loan installments, why govt would care for your job security or business status! Doesn’t govt have taken enough efforts to make affordable homes possible already for you, now what more you want? Should the govt should pay your “Big Basket” or “Grofers” bill for grocery also under the name of affordable housing!

I think to make affordable homes we should first define the term “affordable” as just calling some homes affordable by reducing its sizes of rooms or specifications we won’t be ever able to make affordable homes! As Jamie Dimon said it’s a holistic approach towards the entire societies wellbeing is what going to make home affordable & the sooner we will acknowledge this that will be the first step in right direction towards which is like a mirage right now named as affordable home!
 Sanjay Deshpande 
Sanjeevani Dev.

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