Rebuilding Our Cities

Physical decay has eaten deeply into the urban areas in the country. Corruption at every level in civic bodies are doing maximum damage. It breeds crime and delinquency, the result the housing problem remains unsolved. It is apparent that private builders, who by the way, are constructing over 75% of housing stock in the country, are forced to cough up hefty bribes at every stage of building construction. Construction of flats has become costly and out of the reach of general public. This resulted a new breed of investors in flats. In most of the cities old and dilapidated housing stock is on rental basis. And rents in cities like Mumbai are frozen to the year 1940 levels. This was and is the main reason that the repair of the buildings is not possible with the petty rents. The land lords of such rental buildings can not afford to the repairs and maintenance of such buildings. But now with the grant of FSI and high property rates there is option to reconstruct them. But the basic question remains to be answered is that as to where the common man will live. In entire south Mumbai a lot of construction is going on but they are all high rise high cost buildings and have no place for common man. The remedy is to create social housing compulsory at least on 40 to 50 % of the old property to be redeveloped in the metro cities. In all major cities in the country, slums are spreading because the common man cannot find affordable housingand hence are forced to live in miserable conditions. In 1999 the draft of National Slum Policy (DNSP) was circulated by the government of India. Since then it has undergone to numerous revisions, but it is yet to be finalised. In major cities, slums are occupying large tracts of valuable land. The aspect has to be addressed first if we want to rebuild our cities. Among the deficiencies in our national well being, is the accelerated rate of physical deterioration in our cities. The city planners and policy makers must concentrate on these issues and find out ways and means to rebuild the cities, where there is place for common man as well as for the affluent class. Various slum redevelopment schemes floated from time to time by various state governments have so far failed to achive the objective. So if we want to rebuild our cities, we have to prepare plans to fulfill it, as the rebuilding of cities cannot be carried out with piecemeal approach.
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