The huge rush of people at form counters on Wednesday, when the Delhi government launched a fresh housing scheme, was but expected.
As on March 2001, there were 24.5 lakh housing units in Delhi, according to Census figures.
Since then, the additions to the city’s housing stock have not kept pace with population growth.
Delhi’s population increased from 1.38 crore in 2001 to 1.62 crore in 2006. In response, the Delhi Development Authority added only 13,000 houses in these years.
Planners blame the huge mismatch for the explosion of colonies built without permission and slums in the city.
Private developers also link the skyrocketing property prices in the city and its suburbs to this shortfall.
If anybody has gained from this, they are the investors. They are buying flats in bulk and selling them off at prices many times more. So a flat that costs Rs 25 lakh is sold for Rs 50 lakh or more.
Spiraling home loan rates have only added to the misery of potential buyers.
No wonder in such a scenario, the latest scheme — pricing houses at 40-45 per cent less than market rates — is seeing a mad scramble.
Experts say the low prices together with the fact the Delhi Development Authority is not considering the income of a person to decide eligibility is fuelling the middle-class dream.
In the last housing scheme launched in 2006, there were 230 applicants competing for each of the 3,500 flats on offer.
In 2004 when 2,500 flats were offered, the figure was 153, figures that mirror the huge demand for affordable, government flats in recent years when the gap between population and housing units has yawned.
As early as 2001, the responses to the DDA’s housing schemes used to be tepid.
The areas where it offered flats were not fully developed. Plus, the flats were not attractive and lacked facilities such as lifts, reception area and boundary walls.
Market watchers say the mad scramble for houses will only intensify unless the government does not add to the housing stock.
Aware, the Urban Development Ministry is drawing up a proposal that will allow private developers to enter the housing sector.
The idea seems fine, but then would that mean the end of affordable housing for the common man?