CHENNAI: The state government is holding discussions on providing low-cost living spaces for migrant workers after the Centre gave its nod for providing affordable rental housing complexes (ARHCS) to urban migrants across the country.
Sources from the labour department said no policy decision in this regard has been taken but discussions are on. "It is at the nascent stage," a labour department official said. It is learnt that there are more than four lakh migrant workers in Tamil Nadu from other states including Orissa, West Bengal, Jharkhand, Assam and Uttar Pradesh and most of them have left for their homes following the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Affordable Rental Housing Complexes (ARHCs) scheme under the Union Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs is a sub-scheme under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Urban) with an estimated expenditure of around Rs 600 crore. The scheme aims to cover nearly 3 lakh beneficiaries initially. It will cover the workforce in manufacturing industries, service providers in hospitality, health, domestic/commercial establishments, and construction or other sectors, labourers, students who come from rural areas or small towns seeking better opportunities.
Vanessa Peter, Policy researcher, IRCDUC, said, "Rental housing should be made available for the most vulnerable sections of the populations including the inter-state and inter-district migrant workers, women headed households, and for those residing in informal settlement for 'rent'. Inbuilt mechanisms for robust monitoring and evaluation processes like social audit and appointment of ombudsperson must be included."
The Builders Association of India and the Confederation of Real Estate Developers' Association of India (CREDAI) have welcomed the move by the Union government in providing affordable rental homes for migrants. The Centre has offered special incentives like use permission, 50 per cent additional Floor Area Ratio or Floor Space Index, concessional loan at priority sector lending rates, tax relief at par with affordable housing among others, to private and public entities to develop ARHCs on their own available vacant land for 25 years.
S Sridharan, CREDAI chairman, Tamil Nadu chapter, told The New Indian Express that to provide rental housing for migrant workers, the government has to provide land and only then it can be cheaper. "How far providing ARHCS will work under public-private partnership will be decided only after it is implemented in the state," he said.
Builders Association of India state treasurer S Ramaprabhu said that it may not lure the private sector but the scheme could be implemented using the shelter charges collected by the government from the developer where the Floor Space Index (Build up area) exceeds 4,000 square metres. "The rate of shelter charges payable is one per cent of the Guideline Value of FSI exceeding 4,000 square metres," says Ramaprabhu.
This also comes as the state housing policy suggests to facilitate development of online rental housing portals for economically weaker sections (EWS) and low income groups for creating easier access to homes for these vulnerable groups. It is learnt that the housing policy has recommended that the state shall encourage developing rental housing for migrants, construction workers, industrial workers, students, working women through state agencies private or based on public private partnerships.
Since government land to construct rental houses within Chennai is negligible, it is learnt that the state government is identifying surplus lands with various government departments.