With India's urban population expected to touch 328.5 million mark next year, the country will be faced with shortage of as many as 24.71 million houses in its towns and cities.
According to a study conducted by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation, the bulk of this shortage will be faced in the economically weaker sections (EWS) and lower income group (LIG) categories.
The middle and higher income groups (MIG and HIG), who have the buying capacity, are however, expected to be taken care of by the "market forces" or, in other words, the private housing industry.
According to the report of the Technical Group on Estimation of Urban Housing Shortage, the highest requirement will be in the EWS category which will need 21.78 million dwelling units, followed by the LIG which will requires 2.89 million houses. The combined requirement of MIG and HIG categories will be only to the extent of .04 million housing units.
The total number of urban households in the country in 2007 would be 66.30 million while the available housing stock would be 58.83 million units, the report estimates.
The Technical Group was set up by the ministry under the chairmanship of Professor Amitabh Kundu, Dean of the School of Social Sciences, Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), and had various other experts as its members. Its brief was to estimate the housing shortage and requirement at national and state level in urban areas during the 11th Five Year Plan period (2007-2012).
The estimates, which were drawn up on the basis of the latest population census 2001 and National Sample Survey (NSS) figures, reckoned that the total housing requirement in urban areas during the 11th Plan period would be around 26.53 million dwelling units.
An interesting finding of the report is that the growth of housing stock during the 1991-2001 decade was much less than the previous two decades.
"This could be due to the limited withdrawal of public agencies like housing boards and development authorities from housing construction activities. The fiscal benefits provided in the housing sector during the last 5 to 10 years do not seem to have led to a boost in housing activities," the Technical Group felt.
It also expressed the opinion that investment in the housing sector over the past several decades had not been made to the extent that it could "eradicate" housing shortage in the country.