Issues such as land use, which have a direct impact on the availability of land for affordable housing for the urban poor, get decided and are planned independent of the considerations of the poor, says a State Planning Commission report.
The report states that the State government should take necessary corrective action to ensure that urban planning includes the poor. It adds that city-level urban poverty alleviation instruments, such as city development plans, city health plans, slum-free city (and State) plans of action, urban poverty reduction strategies and other such documents, must integrate and collaborate with formal urban planning instruments.
In addition, special attention must be paid to poverty and slums in peri-urban areas and the related planning instruments applicable to these areas.
Amid urban growth in the State, there is also a huge rise in slum population. According to the Planning Commission report, while the urban population in Tamil Nadu grew by 27 per cent, slum population has grown from 28.38 lakh to approximately 59 lakh, a growth of 150 per cent.
More than two-thirds of households requiring housing fall under the LIG (Lower Income Group) and EWS (Economically Weaker Section) categories. These groups largely depend on rental housing provided by HIG (Higher Income Group) households.
For construction of their own housing units, they are dependent on supply of plots by public agencies. By 2012, the total housing demand was estimated at 26.27 lakh units, with the average annual demand working out to roughly 2 lakh each year.
In Chennai, real estate agencies consider affordable homes as those that are anywhere around `20 lakh, which a sizable population can’t afford. Even the efforts to earmark 10 per cent housing stock for economically weaker sections have hardly been implemented.
It is learnt that the gap between households and housing units in 2001 was 36,000 units in the Chennai Metropolitan Area.
It was estimated that 15 per cent of the dwelling units were semi-pucca and 10 per cent were kutcha, with nearly 41 per cent of the dwelling units being either one room or units without an exclusive bed room. The slum population as identified at the time of preparation of the Second Master Plan was 8,18,872 or 19 per cent of the city population.
Of this, about 75,498 families have been identified to be in vulnerable locations, such as river margins, water logged areas, seashores and road margins, and are categorised as objectionable slums. The incremental housing demand in Chennai, which was 4,13,012 in 2011 is expected to go up to 12,37,482 in 2026. Of this, the EWS demand (at 30 per cent of total) is estimated to increase from 1,23,904 in 2011 to 3,71,245 in 2026.
The expansion would also put pressure on public utilities to provide basic amenities to people in extended areas. While the people living in newly-added areas hardly get piped water or have sewage network, one may be left wondering how public utilities would react to the new challenge.