Housing is critical for the environment
In Mumbai, on Sunday, 31 people died in a series of house collapses after a short burst of intense rain, a tell-tale sign of the climate crisis, triggered landslides. In Haryana’s Faridabad district, protests have continued at Khori Gaon since June 7 when the Supreme Court directed the municipal corporation to take “essential measures” to remove “encroachments” from forest lands. A common thread unites these events — housing poverty.
Urban India has struggled with providing proper, adequate and legal housing to citizens that has electricity, water supply, sanitation, and sewage connections. In addition to the homeless, there is a slum population of roughly 65 million (or 17% of urban India). A 2020 Niti Aayog paper, titled Housing Conundrum, showed the housing market has a skewed demand–supply management. Housing backlogs coexist with stressed assets and vacant housing stock. The development of affordable housing is constrained by economic and spatial issues. Land use plans are unable to keep pace with rapid urban population increase and land development.
A safe and climate-sensitive shelter can provide income, security and a future for inhabitants. For poor women in the informal sector, the home plays a critical role in their earning activities, making it a productive asset. In a post-Covid-19 and climate-crisis-hit world, it means better security and health, too, for occupants. Most importantly, legal rights to a house mean that the owner has an identity that the government recognises. To tackle the housing backlog, the Centre launched the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Urban) in 2015 that promises to provide housing for all by 2022. To avoid a replay of Mumbai and Faridabad, this programme’s success is crucial in providing homes to all, including those devastated by environmental crises and those displaced to protect the environment.
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