The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Home truths on housing

Driven by rising real-estate rates, middle and low-income families are being forced out of Calcutta and into the suburbs, the government lamented on Monday, before unveiling a housing initiative aimed to benefit the economically disadvantaged.

“It is distressing to note that people belonging to middle and lower-middle income groups are leaving Calcutta and relocating themselves in Barasat, Baruipur and other such far-off places,” housing minister Gautam Deb said in the Assembly.

To address this home truth, housing companies in the joint sector, like Bengal Peerless, Bengal Ambuja and Bengal Shrachi, will be asked to pay more attention to housing the economically disadvantaged, Deb said.

The government has also drawn up plans for setting up at least another half-a-dozen joint-sector companies to create more housing stocks in and around Calcutta. The government, currently playing the role of facilitator, will don the mantle of “interventionist provider” in the expanding Calcutta market. “There would have been total chaos if we had not intervened. And there will be greater intervention in the near future,” said Deb.

Additionally, efforts are on to introduce an incentive to make big private developers embrace the philosophy of “social housing” and create space for middle and lower-income groups in their mega housing complexes.

At present, flats meant for the lower-income groups in joint-sector housing projects are subsidised, while those for the middle-income groups are sold on a no-loss-no-profit basis. The joint-sector companies, with projects on land provided at subsidised rates, are expected to earmark 50 per cent of their flats for the middle and lower-middle groups, but few actually do it.

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