Muhammad Nadeem Bhatti
There is an urgent need for housing for the poor and lower middle class in South Asia. Countries with an extreme housing shortage are India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.
It is estimated that one in four people on this planet live in South Asia, and more than 14% of South Asians are homeless, not to mention 45% more living in crowded conditions.
In addition, the World Bank report noted that the region’s future economic growth, employment and social development are linked to the provision of housing and financing for home ownership.
The informal settlements and large-scale slums that exist in almost all South Asian states underscore the urgency of meeting the demand for housing.
There is a shortage of about 38 million homes across the region; taking into account the average household size, this translates to 212.5 million homeless or poor people, or 14% of a total population of 1.5 billion.
A house is a place where we live. It can be considered as one of the essential things that we need to live our life peacefully as it provides us security and protects us from inclement weather, sun and storms.
Moreover, if you have a house in a nice and chic town in your city, it will complement your personality as well. We live in a country where things are not that expensive as the developed countries.
But when it comes to housing companies, plots and fully furnished houses, Pakistan even lags behind some of the more expensive countries in this regard. With each passing day, properties are getting more and more expensive in the country, and it is too difficult for a poor person or an ordinary man to buy a house.
Likewise, interior designers and furniture are expensive too.
To deal with the crisis in the country, for the first time in the history of South Asia, Pakistani Prime Minister, Mr. Imran Khan aims to give homes to those who live hand to mouth but do not commit any crime.
In addition, the plan will primarily focus on financially underserved and middle-income communities as an overall socio-economic improvement measure. Through this initiative, its main concern is to provide housing for the lower class as well as to create employment opportunities for citizens.
For the first 100,000 homes built for the low income group by government entities themselves or under a public-private partnership model, the government will provide Rs 300,000 for each house as a cost subsidy for a total of 30 billion rupees. has been allocated.
Across the country, more than 45,000 social housing units are estimated to be under construction, including four recently inaugurated projects, including 11,000 housing units in LDA City Lahore, AlipurFarash Islamabad and Zone-V Islamabad.
It also includes the recently launched Punjab peri-urban housing program in Sargodha. Monthly mortgage payments for these homes would be less than Rs 10,000 per month. Nearly 12 sites were inaugurated by the Prime Minister. 10 other sites will be inaugurated in the coming weeks.
Rapid urbanization and population growth have resulted in the generation of a vast demand for housing.
According to the State Bank of Pakistan, housing accumulation, which amounted to 4,300,000 million in 1998, increased to 10,000,000 million in 2017, a substantial part of which is provided by the province of Punjab.
In addition, the current supply of different sizes of homes does not match the income distribution. In 2017, there was 208,926 housing shortages in Faisalabad, and it will grow to 291,723 homes by 2023.
To meet this growing demand, a program is being set up under the Naya Pakistan Housing Program in Faisalabad, 574-Kanals region, available with Faisalabad Development Authority (FDA). Not only will the housing project provide people with reasonable housing, but it will also create employment opportunities.
In Pakistan, the housing sector has been largely neglected by several governments in the previous decades. While this attracted the attention of the political leadership, it never went beyond mere political slogans.
Even though some work has been done at the government level, it has not gone beyond desire and discussions and has not even been put on a drawing board. Pakistan is currently facing a global housing backlog of 11 to 12 million housing units.
The urban housing shortage is estimated at around 4 million. Pakistan’s urban population accounts for one-third of the total population, which is expected to reach 50% by 2050. The bulk of the urban housing backlog is among low- and lower-middle-income segments of the population.
On the supply side, the real estate developer industry has been active in providing housing to the middle and upper middle segments of the population.
The inhabitants of the bottom of the pyramid (BoP), globally estimated at 20% of the population, live largely in illegal settlements, squatter settlements and slums (KatchiAbadis).
I salute this bold and sincere measure that this government has taken for the betterment of our society. In this regard, all I can say is that excess of anything is bad.
To escape illiteracy and poverty, the nation should commit to playing the exceptional role of good citizen with every expectation of social and moral activities and duties.
But it should be noted that there is a restriction or control of our population growth which has reached 220 million, as the continuous increase in population is the main reason for the increase in corruption and crime.
The larger the population, the more limited resources will be. If we make a comparison with the Scandinavian countries, regardless of so many resources, they have control over their people, and that is why they are considered and enjoy the status of leading states in the world.
—The writer is a senior social analyst and chairman of the Pakistan Columnist Council