• Faced with a massive shortage of housing, more than 90 percent of it in the affordable segment, the Punjab government, has decided to concentrate its energy and resources on incentivizing investment in this sector. Recognising the urgent need for rental housing, this segment will also be encouraged in the coming years. A group of ministers under the chairmanship of Health Minister Brahm Mohindra is already deliberating on finalizing a “holistic” policy on new housing and regularizing existing unauthorized housing colonies by ensuring minimum basic amenities for residents. At the same time stringent measures are being contemplated with the use of modern remote sensing technology to prevent new illegal colonies and constructions to come up.

As per National Building Organization (NBO) estimates, the housing shortage in the state in 2007 was 6.90 lakh units which grew to 12 lakh units in the 2011 census of India, of which 10 lakh units shortfall was in the urban areas. More than 90% of this housing requirement would be required for poor, economically weaker sections and low income group. This was the scenario in 2011 when 37.49 % of Punjab’s total population of 2.77 crore was living in urban areas. This percentage of urban population is estimated to jump to 50 percent by the year 2041, resulting in a near crisis if urgent steps are not taken immediately to increase inventory, especially in urban areas, at a fast clip.

Addressing these issues at a media interaction in the new year, Punjab Additional Chief Secretary Housing and Urban Development Vini Mahajan said the state government was set to unveil a special forward looking policy for affordable colonies in the next two months based on small sized plots with an enhanced saleable area.

Photo By: Life in Chandigarh

Recognising the need for affordable rental housing for students, senior citizens, professionals and labour class, Vini Mahajan said a special policy with provision for incentives to the private real estate developers in this direction is expected to be rolled out in the next three months.

Applications under the Punjab Shehri Awas Yojana-2017 had been received from all towns in the state and these were being scrutinized under the supervision of respective Deputy Commissioners. Benefits under the scheme would be launched by Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Republic Day, she said.

Regarding regularization of existing unauthorized colonies, the Additional Chief Secretary said a comprehensive policy, aimed at ensuring minimum basic amenities to citizens who had purchased properties in these colonies, was under the consideration of a group of ministers headed by Punjab Health Minister Brahm Mohindra and is likely to be finalized soon. At the same time stringent measures are being taken with the help of remote sensing technology and drones to prevent any more illegal colonies and constructions from coming up, she said, adding that regulatory wings were being set up in each of the area development authorities and Chief Administrators of these authorities had been given powers of additional director town and country planning for this purpose.

She informed that out of 1214 unauthorised marriage palaces in the state, 1150 had applied for regularization. Some had already been given a green signal by the state government after they fulfilled all necessary requirements, including fire safety norms, adequate parking facility, etc., and others would also get approval as and when they fulfill the criteria laid down in the policy.

Vini Mahajan said that the department had taken measures to improve the interface with the citizens. Starting from e-CLU services on a pilot basis for the Lalru master plan, e-auction across all area authorities, launch of an exclusive app to keep tab on illegal colonies and illegal construction and a PUDA mobile app, the department would this year also be adding e-approval of licenses for development of colonies and online building plan approval.

Coming to projects being taken up in Mohali, she said considering the prospect of increase in demand for housing near the International airport following the launch of international flights from there the process had been started by GMADA for aggregating 4,000 acres of additional land under land pooling policy for expansion of the Aero City project. Similarly, all other area development authorities had been asked to prepare demand based perspective plans for their respective areas to meet the ever increasing demand for housing and commercial sites and aggregate land through land pooling.

A request for proposal (RFP) had also been initiated by GMADA for inviting private parties to set up a Technology University on 50 acres in IT City Mohali, which will also get an ultra modern convention centre, alongwith Ludhiana and Amritsar in PPP mode. Steps are being taken to provide modern amenities like 24x7 water supply, smart water meters, solar power, tertiary treated water, rain water harvesting and adequate green cover in all future projects to be undertaken by the area development authorities, she added.

Anandpur Sahib is also to get a Special Development Authority for its planned and integrated development.