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Racing to become part of major developments
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The public sector agencies should concentrate and assemble a proper provision for development and supply of land, especially to the Low Income Group (LIG) and the Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) with a graded toning down of the responsibilities in the provision of infrastructure, construction of dwellings and post occupancy management. They should play the role of promoters and facilitators and should reorient their activities to better serve the interests of the most disadvantageous sections of the population.

The National Front Government formulated the draft National Housing Policy to make it responsive to the needs of different income groups, particularly the weaker sections. The then Union Urban Development Minister, Mr.Murasoli Maran, has said that the government alone could not meet the housing needs and the Cooperative Sector would have to be given more priority.

The tilt in favor of the group-housing societies proclaimed that housing is in fact a ?People?s activity?, and it has been emphasized in the draft policy. The Minister further announced that during the Eighth Five Year Plan, the public and private sectors would spend 13,000 crore rupees a year for housing development. It has now been accepted that housing not only meets a basic need but also stimulates economic activity and employment at the macro and house-hold level, activates dormant savings and provides the base for achieving crucial goals in health, education, sanitation, maternal and child welfare. In cities like Cochin Real Estate developments have actually led to similar developments.

The misfortune of housing in India and particularly in cities like Cochin is that it was always looked upon as a social activity rather than an economic activity. India, with several times more of the homeless, spends less than two percent of its Gross National Product (GNP) on shelter compared to 7.5 percent in Japan, 16.2 percent in West Germany and 5.2 percent in the U.S. Yet government investment in housing has drastically declined since the fifties, when it allocated 35 percent of the First Five Year Plan investments to the housing sector. The allocation declined to 19 percent in the Second Plan, 15 percent in the Third, 12 percent in the Fourth, 10 percent in the Fifth and 7.5 percent in the Sixth. In the Seventh Plan, the private sector made a total investment of Rs.29,000 crore in housing while the government?s investment was only Rs.2,858 crore.
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