Affordable Housing Current Affairs

October 2: World Habitat Day

The World Habitat Day was observed all over the world on 2 October 2017. The purpose of day is to reflect on state of cities and towns and basic human right to adequate shelter. It also aims to remind world of its collective responsibility for habitat of future generations.

The theme for this year was ‘Housing Policies: Affordable Homes’. It focuses on promoting implementation of concrete initiatives to ensure adequate and affordable housing in context of implementation of New Urban Agenda, as well as achievement of Sustainable Development Goals.

New Urban Agenda

It was adopted at UN Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development (also known as “Habitat III” conference) held in Quito, Ecuador in October 2016. It sets global vision of sustainable urbanization for next 20 years.  It is set of 175 commitments that countries need to adhere to tackle challenges of urbanization.

It is considered as roadmap for building cities that can serve as engines of prosperity and centres of social and cultural well-being while protecting the environment. It provides guidance for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and provides the underpinning for actions to address climate change.

Background

The United Nations has designated the first Monday of October of every year as World Habitat Day. The day was established by the United Nations General Assembly through Resolution 40/202 in 1985 and was first celebrated in 1986. Since then it is observed each year with new theme to promote sustainable development policies that ensure adequate shelter for all.

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Government orders review of FSI/FAR norms in mega cities

The Ministry of Housing & Urban Affairs (MHUA) has ordered review of Floor Space Index (FSI) and Floor Area Ratio (FAR) norms in mega cities of country.

FSI/FSA

FSI is ratio of building’s total floor area to size of piece of land on which it is built.

The review will be taken up in time bound manner in all 53 cities with population of 1 million and above each. Moreover, similar review will be also undertaken for State Capitals with less than million population in due course.  The review will be taken up in consultation with States and cities is to cover an assessment of the existing norms and to what extent it could be enhanced.

Need for review

NITI Ayog in its report had illustrated deleterious effects of restrictive FSI by comparing Mumbai and Shanghai (in China). In 1984, Shanghai had only 3.65 sq.mt of space per person. But through liberal use of FSI, it has increased available space to 34 sq.mt per person despite increase in population. In contrast, Mumbai on average just had 4.50 sq.mt of space per person in 2009.

Based on this assessment, NITI Aayog had called for review of FSI/FSA to give properly planned push to urban development in country. In Indian cities, FSA is generally about 1.50, which is said to be on the lower side given the needs of rapid urbanization. Besides, availability of land in urban areas is critical to meet demand for affordable housing projects under Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Urban).

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