A local government department in India is proposing to build 5,000 apartments for a unit price of $5,200 in less than a year as part of a universal housing plan.
The initiative is being tested in the district of Bidar in the southwest Indian state of Karnataka. As a pilot, the local authority will build 65 houses in a month.
From a local media report it appears that the one-bedroom apartments will be built in four-storey blocks of 16 units, with each unit having an area of 600 square feet.
Reinforced concrete will be used, as well as fly ash bricks and prefabricated partitions made in a local, state-run factory in Bidar. Finishes will be minimal, and made with materials available within the district.
This project is going to change the way housing schemes are implemented– Anurag Tewari, Bidar’s deputy commissioner
Fly ash bricks are made from the compressed residue of coal-fired boilers. They are about 20% cheaper than clay bricks and due to their high calcium oxide content they require about half as much mortar.
When complete, the houses will be offered to vulnerable people such as taxi drivers, sex workers, beggars, widows and people with physical disabilities.
The plan is being implemented by a team of officials led by Anurag Tewari, Bidar’s deputy commissioner. He told The Hindu newspaper: "This project is going to change the way housing schemes are implemented. We submitted a proposal to the Rajiv Gandhi Housing Corporation to build 5,000 houses and got in-principle approval from the government for taking up the first 500 houses.
"Once we pick up pace of construction, we will pitch in for the remaining four and a half thousand."
It has been estimated in the latest government economic survey that India is suffering from a shortage of 20 million affordable homes as a result of rapid urbanisation and the formation of smaller households. More than 10 million people migrate to cities every year, and many are forced to live in substandard, unsafe and illegally built accommodation.
Image: A slum in Dharavi near Mumbai. India is struggling to provide decent homes for its poorest citizens (Kounosu/Wikimedia Commons)