Image for representational purposes. Courtesy: Hindustan Times
Taking note of the fact that despite the prevailing housing crisis, 25 per cent of affordable dwelling units constructed with government loans are still lying vacant, a parliamentary committee has asked the ministry concerned to look into the issue seriously.
The committee that was examining the performance of the Housing and Urban Development Corporation (HUDCO) under the Housing and Urban Affairs Ministry observed that the units were constructed under three government schemes - Basic Services To Urban Poor (BSUP), Integrated Housing and Slum Development Programme (IHSDP) and Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM).
The committee, headed by BJP MP Shanta Kumar, was perturbed to find that many beneficiaries did not occupy the units constructed with loans given by HUDCO under the three schemes of JNNURM, BSUP, and IHSDP.
HUDCO, a 100 per cent government owned company, was set up primarily for lending to the social housing sector, and the core urban infrastructure sector in the country.
The secretary of the ministry said that Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Delhi and Madhya Pradesh had the maximum amount of non-occupancy.
The panel noted that in response to its specific query relating to the details of non-occupancy of the houses, HUDCO had merely said that the details of the occupancy of the houses were available only with the state governments, and the company's role was limited to providing just the loan assistance.
The committee felt that the stance taken by HUDCO of remaining unconcerned about the considerable non-occupancy of the houses, particularly when the magnitude of the housing shortage in the country was huge, was unwarranted and defeated the purpose of HUDCO's mandate for social housing.
The committee was of the opinion that the company needed to be aware of the situation regarding the non-occupancy of houses constructed with its loans and analyse its possible reasons and accordingly, frame a strategy with the loan availing agencies to ensure that the beneficiaries for whom these houses were constructed, occupied the houses.
The report further stated, "Ministry may revisit the policy in this regard to explore the measures and taking initiatives so as to have cent per cent occupancy of the housing units and apprise the committee accordingly along with latest state wise occupancy details."
As far as HUDCO's joint venture partnership with various real estate and infrastructure projects for implementation are concerned, the committee advised the company to exit these loss-making joint ventures (JVs) as early as possible.
The committee said that while risk taking, to some extent, was vital for a company, HUDCO perhaps should have ventured into JVs with appropriate cushioning, as well as an alternate work plan in case of non-receipt of adequate work.
(Arun Kumar Das is a Delhi-based journalist and can be contacted at [email protected])