Meticulous strategy needed for meeting housing demand

Chennai: Sustained economic growth will result in acceleration of urbanisation and meticulous strategy is required to meet the domestic housing and quality urban services demand, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee said today.

"With sustained economic growth, the pace of urbanisation is set to accelerate and the urban population living in Indian towns and cities will double in the next 25 years," Mukherjee said at the 24th All India Builders` Convention here.

The growth is in conformity to the global trend where more than half of world`s population is living in cities and towns, he said.

"In order to harness this opportunity, it is important that we plan carefully our strategy to meet the demand for housing and quality urban services in our habitations," he said.

According to Mukherjee, urbanisation in India has occurred slowly and unevenly but this is set to change rapidly.

The Finance Minister said the `housing deficit` in the country, especially in urban areas, was not only a challenge to India`s rapidly growing economy, but also a source of opportunity to boost the construction industry as well as the economy`s growth momentum.

An individual`s desire to own a house is a basic one and this coupled with an expanding economy and a young population, presents a `huge opportunity` to the construction sector, he said.

"This task of meeting this desire is not merely a commercial enterprise. It has a larger social dimension to it.

The construction sector has considerable scope for creating employment for unskilled and semi-skilled, which have direct implications for poverty eradication," Mukherjee said.

During the 12th Five Year Plan, investment in the infrastructure sector alone would be around a little over Rs 40,000 crore, he said, adding that the success in meeting this target was tied with the performance of the building and construction sector.

Asking the realty industry to be sensitive to social dimension of housing, the Minister stressed on ethical practices and said that pricing should be done "appropriately" in response to the housing demand across the sections in society.

If the present economic growth trajectory is maintained for the next decade or two, the construction industry will witness a huge shortage of skills.

"National Skill Development Corporation has been formed to involve private sector in creation of skilled workforce," he said urging the construction industry to establish tie-ups with NSDC and contribute towards skill creation.