Neharika Yadav, an architect, makes a living designing fancy houses for the rich. For herself, a small two-room Delhi Development Authority (DDA) flat would do, as it would for any of the lakhs of people who have applied for one.
Her chances of getting a flat will boil down to luck. The odds against her are high.
The DDA has sold a whopping 8.64 lakh forms for the 5,010 one-room, two-room and three-rooms flats up for sale under the recently-launched housing scheme.
Yadav is most likely to be disappointed. She will apply again, whenever DDA announces another scheme. She may eventually get lucky. But why must housing in the country’s capital be left to chance?
Delhi is facing a mounting housing crisis, and DDA is not up to the challenge.
According to the last census in 2001, Delhi one lakh houses short of the required number. The population has since increased from 1.38 crore to 1.62 crore but the government agency with a housing monopoly added just 13,000 dwellings.
“The response (to the DDA scheme) clearly shows that there is an inherent demand for affordable housing,” said Anshuman Magazine of real estate consultancy firm CB Richard Ellis.
“The only way to meet this demand-supply mismatch is to increase the existing housing stock,” he added. “Along with supporting infrastructure like roads, power and water supply.”
So who will do this? DDA — the agency responsible for this shortage?
“The housing shortage in the Capital is the direct fallout of DDA’s lopsided land acquisition policies,” said Ajay Maken, Union minister of state for Urban Development.
DDA has a monopoly on acquiring land for housing, and at rates that are substantially lower than market rates, which helps it keep down the price of its flats. But it likes to hoard land – acquire them, but not build on them.
“The land locked up with government agencies will have to be released if housing supply has to be augmented,” said Maken
“The way out is to involve private developers in this sector,” he added.
Plans for that are ready, but are stuck due to DDA’s reluctance to let go.
A draft policy on it was returned by the urban development ministry to the housing agency for drastically re-modelling some key issues.
The other alternative is to go up. Magazine of CB Richard Ellis says, “The land available in the city is limited. So to cater to the housing requirement of the burgeoning population, building high rises can be a solution.”
The Master Plan-2021, which is going to be the guiding principle for the city’s development over the next decade, has indeed pitched for high rises and public-private partnership.
But DDA is less than thrilled about it.
The agency is thrilled, on the other hand, by the overwhelming response to its scheme and finds in it an endorsement of its policies. “We provide flats at the cheapest rates possible,” said DDA spokesperson Neemo Dhar.
That is indeed true. Priced between Rs 7.95 lakh and Rs 77 lakh, these flats are about 40 to 42 per cent cheaper than those going at market rates. But how many people will benefit? They will be a very exclusive bunch.