Realty bill ignores reality

Real estate regulations silent on housing for low income group

By Nidhi Jamwal
Published: Thursday 31 December 2009

the Union ministry of housing and urban poverty alleviation recently released the draft model real estate bill meant to regulate the realty sector. It proposes mandatory registration of all development projects with a regulatory authority and a tribunal to make developers accountable to the consumers. The bill is likely to be introduced in Parliament in the ongoing session.

But real estate consultants and industry bodies have criticized the draft bill saying it neither meets the aspirations of the realty sector nor does it deal with housing for the poor. As per the ministry figures, there is a shortage of 25 million housing units across India; 90 per cent of this shortage is in the low-income group housing. Pricing of land and release of land into the market are the two crucial points that decide affordable housing.Unfortunately the draft bill is silent on these, said V K Phatak, former chief town planner of Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority.

Real estate industry groups like Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry and National Real Estate Development Council (naredco) said the draft bill will add another layer of regulation and usher in licence-raj. Ramesh Menon, founder director of consultancy firm in Gurgaon, Certes Realty, said real estate projects have to obtain at least 19 approvals that take a minimum of 12-15 months; adding another layer of regulation will increase the wait period and cost. naredco said the draft regulations would not help to meet the demand for affordable housing. A private developer will not do social work and would expect reasonable profits; government needs to pitch in by providing subsidy to the poor people, help developers with land acquisition and develop peripheral infrastructure, said naredco director general R R Singh. Unfortunately the bill is silent on the role of government, which is an important stakeholder in the real estate sector, he said.

Simpreet Singh of Ghar Bachao Ghar Banao Andolan, a non-profit, said the urban land ceiling act could have been used to acquire land but states have repealed this act. The land ceiling act stipulates that an individual cannot hold more than 500 sq m vacant land; anything in excess can be acquired and used for developing mass housing.

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