GUWAHATI, Aug 27 � Speakers at the ongoing North-east Realty Expo-2011 today deliberated on the challenges facing the housing sector, particularly in the context of Guwahati, the gateway to the North-east.
Participating as chief speaker, PK Sharma, president of Assam Real Estate and Infrastructure Developers� Association (AREIDA) placed before the senior government officials the various problems faced by builders and reiterated his request for creating special residential zones (SRZs) in order to meet acute habitat shortage. He made a detailed presentation on the various factors leading to the skyrocketing price of dwelling units, and suggested concrete steps to the government to make the dream of affordable housing a reality for a large section of the population.
HS Das, Principal Secretary, Finance, Assam, stated that while housing was a crying need of the hour, he was against horizontal expansion, especially in the rural areas, which encroaches on agricultural and forest land.
Responding to the plea for bringing the various approval processes under a single window under e-governance, Das who was the guest of honour today, said that most regulations and tax structures were framed during the colonial period and subsequent modification took place during the socialistic era after independence and had a tendency to be against private enterprise. He said after the opening up of the economy in the early 1990�s, policy changes took place to encourage private and public private partnerships but the regulations did not change in tandem leading to a mismatch between policy and regulations.
�Now that we have a better interaction between government and private enterprise, changes for the better are taking place,� he said, and encouraged frequent and in-depth interactions between the government and stakeholders like AREIDA and submission of representations in actionable form using experts.
Dwelling on the issues of acute shortage of land, high cost of construction materials, and the need for a mechanism to control market price of items like cement and steel which, despite enjoying subsidies under the NEIIP, cost much higher than in the neighboring States, Das took cognizance of the issue of high taxes as pointed out by AREIDA and assured that the government would respond positively.
Das gave details of various funds that the government had earmarked or was sourcing to meet the infrastructure needs of Guwahati such as power generation, water supply, sewerage disposal, etc., which was capital intensive and needed huge funding.
Dr Asish Bhutani, Commissioner and Secretary, Guwahati Development Department, assured the representatives of AREIDA that system changes were being made in the approval process and the government had initiated steps to bring procedures under e-governance and electronic tracking to every file with dealing officers. He gave details of the various steps being taken by the government to improve civic amenities in the city.
He also stated that study was being carried out under the aegis of the Centre of Environment Planning and Technology, Ahmadabad to ascertain the development parameters on account of the problem of extremely narrow roads.