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Affordable housing: Signs are positive but pace is slow, says VHBC chairman Jaithirth Rao

LiveMint logoLiveMint 02-03-2017 Madhurima Nandy

Jaithirth Rao, chairman of VBHC Value Homes Pvt. Ltd, speaks in an interview about the outlook for the affordable housing market. Edited excerpts:

Since the budget on 1 February, a number of developers say they want to build affordable homes now. Do you think it is plain opportunistic?

Even if it is opportunistic, it is in the right direction because it shows it has generated interest amongst developers. The central government, Prime Minister and finance minister have done all they can and it is up to the respective state governments now in terms of implementation and how can it can be taken forward.

What do state governments need to do to take initiatives do push affordable housing?

Land acquisition is a lengthy process and I recommend that in states where there is a development plan in place, agricultural land can be converted for non-agricultural usage. Secondly, certain approvals mandatory for a project can be done away with—certain terms and conditions. Finally, stamp duty charges should be reduced for projects that qualify under the affordable housing parameters as defined by the central government.

What has changed since you launched your first project in Attibele, near Bengaluru, in 2010? Has there been visible growth on the budget housing front?

The signs are positive but the pace has been slow. Especially, at the state government level, a lot can be done to create an enabling environment for building affordable homes. A lot of improvement is required to make land acquisition, project approvals and just general processes smooth and quick. Right now, it’s a painful process. The state governments should also build infrastructure such as roads.

What should the approach be towards building affordable housing in India?

The right approach to affordable housing is that companies can simultaneously build both low-cost and luxury homes but they need to have different brands, separate entities because the treatment for both is entirely different.

If a car manufacturer can make cars in both premium and low-price segments, why can’t developers do the same? But you have to work hard at it. The intent is there but a major criterion is what kind of support comes from the government.

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