Updated: October 29, 2021 7:42:55 am
“We need to create one-room accommodations with shared toilets, which have a rent of like Rs 500, and a worker earns Rs 20,000. I am sure they (migrant workers) won’t mind paying that amount for that one room accommodation, as they don’t have children and families accompanying them,” Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation commissioner Iqbal Singh Chahal said on Wednesday evening.
Chahal was the keynote speaker at the sixth edition of Thinc Migration, an eight-part webinar series helmed by The Indian Express. This edition of Thinc focussed on the crisis of inadequate housing that millions of migrant workers face as they work in our cities and towns. The session was moderated by Udit Misra, Deputy Associate Editor, The Indian Express.
Chahal highlighted the importance of tweaking the current FSI (floor space index), and finding ways to create rental accommodation for migrant workers as a solution to the chronic concern of housing faced by migrant workers.
While Chahal’s address highlighted the magnitude of the housing problem, Professor Amita Bhide (Tata Institute of Social Sciences) made a case for hope and a multifaceted approach. “I will give the example of Mumbai. As part of the DCPR-35 in Mumbai, it has brought in a gender policy which has a range of amenities for women and it addresses multipurpose housing. In every ward in Mumbai, there are lands reserved under DCPR where land is reserved for this policy. This for me, works,” she shared.
While Bhide and Chahal gave examples from India, Shrayana Bhattacharya (Senior Social Protection Economist, World Bank) argued for a policy aimed at decentralisation pointing towards Latin America and China.
“We have to look at decentralisation and empower local governments, not just at the state. Look at Mexican, Brazilian, even Chinese examples — the way a lot of these problems are addressed is not by having a one-size-fits-all programme. They created regulation which allowed for a lot more dynamism at the local level. In the context of Mumbai, one can set up partnerships with different private sector entities,” said Bhattacharya.
Manikandan K P (Institution Builder, Indian Housing Federation) echoed the need for regulating the informal sector — the rental space, which is the biggest supplier of housing in the country.
“We need to get these houses built, but it’s not just about getting the house built, but there’s a need for other mechanisms, like the informal market (the rental market), it is the biggest supplier of housing and we need to improve the situation on that front,” Manikandan said.
“We have got to remember that when we were growing up, it was always roti, kapra and makaan. Around the question of social protection, the makaan has fallen off. It’s basic income, it’s insurance, self insurance, but never house. Housing has been turned into a commodity in a financialised housing market,” said Gautam Bhan (Associate Dean, Indian Institute for Human Settlements).
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