With the increased number of job opportunities and large-scale exodus from other parts of the state to Kochi, the Greater Cochin region needs about 1.90 lakh houses by 2021 for all-income groups.
Though the population inside the city is not showing a drastic increase, the suburbs are getting denser. The population in and around Kochi is expected to grow from 18.19 lakh in 2001 to 25.99 lakh by 2021, an increase of 7.8 lakh.
Currently, about 41,000 families in the Greater Cochin region reside in slums.
The number of ‘Landed but Homeless’ are 22,230 and ‘Landless and Homeless’ are 19,128 in Ernakulam district, said Vasudevan Suresh, Housing and Urban Development Specialist and former chairman and managing director, HUDCO.
India’s urban population will more than double from 28 crore in 2001 to 59 crore in 2030. Kochi and its suburbs will also feel the pulse. Hence there will be a huge requirement for living spaces in and around the city.
“The urban population in Kerala has increased from 29.96 per cent in 2001 to 47.72 per cent in 2011. The Greater Cochin region is also witnessing increased urbanisation. Constructing houses to meet the huge requirement will be a great challenge for the town planners, particularly for the low-income group,” Suresh said.
According to him, though Kochi will remain the commercial capital of the state, there will be challenges ahead in terms of accommodation.
“The major concern are inflow of migrant population, limited land availability, soaring prices and rising cost of construction inputs. The city-centric development model will remain the same for the years to come. This is an opportunity as well as a challenge,” he said.
Experts agree that providing accommodation for the increased population will be a challenge.
They feel that the key strategies should be to provide special thrust for housing the migrant workers, slum housing should be given thrust under various urban development schemes, relocation of slums from hazardous/vulnerable areas, provide techno-legal support for housing the poor, marginalised, disadvantaged and low-income groups.
“The affordable housing segment should develop in a speedy manner to meet the huge requirement of working professionals in the coming years. Now the trend in Kochi city is that builders are concentrated more on high-end apartments. As a result the majority of the apartments in and around the city remain unoccupied. If real-estate developers concentrate more on affordable housing segments the occupancy will increase,” said Gokulam S Venugopal, managing director, Gokulam Engineers India Pvt Ltd.
The housing demand in Kerala will be 12 lakh houses by 2017, of which 5.5 lakh are under construction and 6.5 lakh houses are yet to be constructed.
Stating that the housing requirement will not be that much in the Greater Cochin area, K J Sohan, chairman of town planning standing committee of the Corporation, said that since there are more vacant houses in the city it will be enough to cater to the needs.
“There are only six lakh people residing in the city and the increase in population is not that much drastic,” he said.