1st Five Year Plan
[ Home ]
<< Back to Index

Introduction || APPENDIX (CH-4) || APPENDIX (CH-9) || ANNEXURE (CH-12) || APPENDIX (CH-14) || APPENDIX(CH-24) || APPENDIX(CH-29) || Conclusion
1 || 2 || 3 || 4 || 5 || 6 || 7 || 8 || 9 || 10 || 11 || 12 || 13 || 14 || 15 || 16 || 17 || 18 || 19 || 20 || 21 || 22 || 23 || 24 || 25 || 26 || 27 || 28 || 29 || 30 || 31 || 32 || 33 || 34 || 35 || 36 || 37 || 38 || 39

Chapter 35:


1. The housing problem has become acute in most industrial regions of the world since the last war. There is increasing recognition everywhere of the close relation between housing and the health and well-being of the people. Actually, over a number of years, shortages on a large-scale have developed and conditions worsened a great deal. Efforts made to solve the problem were handicapped by the difficult economic situation prevailing during these years. Private enterprise has proved incapable of meeting the needs and the State has had to assume direct initiative and responsibility in this field to an increasing extent. In some highly industrialised countries, housing accommodation has been provided to a large extent by heavy subsidies from the State in respect of houses of standard design for low-income groups which are not an economic proposition in most countries at present on account of the high cost of construction, building materials and development.


2. In India the situation has become particularly serious on account of the large increase of population since 1921. The percentage increase of population in the last three censuses has been 11%, l4'3% and 13'4% respectively. During the same period the growth of population in urban areas is estimated at 21%, 32% and 54% respectively. The heavy shifts of population from the rural areas reflected in these figures have occurred on account of the lack of adequate opportunities for employment in the villages and the growth of industry and business in towns with the attraction of relatively high wages and various kinds of amenities. The second world war helped the growth of urban population by setting up a number of war production plants. The labour population engaged in them did not, as a rule, go back to the villages when these plants ceased to operate at the end of the war. The increasing unemployment and underemployment in agriculture have helped this tendency. Since 1947 when the country was partitioned there has been a very heavy influx of refugees who have, on the whole, tried to settle in the urban areas. The supply of houses on the other hand did not keep pace with the increasing demand. Private enterprise, which has been the primary source of building activity so far, tended to shrink on account of scarcity and high price of building materials during and immediately aftqr the war. The enactment of legislations controlling rents and requisitioning premises had also a deterrent effect on private enterprise in building. Pressure on the existing accommodation, therefore, progressively increased leading to evils of over-crowding, deterioration of housing .estates and a variety of malpractices in relations between landlords and tenants.

3. Most of the towns in India have grown up haphazardly. They have a large proportion of sub-standard houses and slums containing insanitary mud-huts of flimsy construction poorly ventilated, over-congested and often lacking in essential amenities such as water and light.' This is specially so in the large industrial cities. The disgraceful sights presented by the ahatas of Kanpur and the bustees of Calcutta are conspicuous examples of this state of affairs. These conditions have developed because of insufficient control over building activity by the State or municipal authorities. Local authorities have been generally indifferent to enforcing such bye-laws regarding building and sanitation as have existed. Their own resources have been too meagre to permit any development work worth the name.

4. Rents have been generally high, but in pre-war years sharing of tenements by several people or even families in conditions of extreme over-crowding reduced the burden on the individual to some extent. But during and after the war, landlords, fully conscious of the scarcity value of accommodation, began to realise rents at much higher rates, sometimes wholly out of proportion to the capital outlay. Very often consideration money or premium, known as pugree or salami, was charged for letting out house property. The State Governments attempted to control rents and to* prevent eviction of tenants by means of special legislations. While the tenants could be given some protection against eviction, the attempt to control rent, specially in the case of new comers, did not prove very successful, generally for the same reasons which led to the failure of price control of essential commodities. Requisitioning of house properties by Governments, both Central and State, during and after the war to acccommodate their offices as well as officers and, in some cases, for allotment to private citizens led to a further contraction of building activity of private landlords and thus aggravated the shortage.


5. In India, the necessity of providing accommodation for their own employees specially in smaller towns or out of the way places has been long recognised by Governments, both Central and Provincial, and some housing activity of this description has been a regular feature throughout. Of late, it has also been realised that housing for low-income groups, who are not necessarily Government servants, will have to be undertaken, at least in the bigger cities, to cope with the acute shortage of accommodation. Among the State Governments, Bombay took a lead in 1921 by establishing a Development Department to reclaim land, to construct 50,000 one-roomed tenements and to organise the supply and distribution of building materials to cope with the growing shortage of houses in Bombay city. This Department had to be closed down soon after it had built only 15,000 tenements. The cost of construction proved very high and workers could not afford to pay the rent which was fixed by the Department to cover the interest and maintenance charges of these buildings. The Bombay Government resumed their'activity in this field in 1949 by setting up a special Housing Board with the object of building houses for industrial workers and other low-income groups, developing land, and assisting in the production and distribution of building materials. The Board, which was set up by legislation, was given a loan of Rs. 4-37 crores upto March, 1952 to provide its initial capital. It has constructed 7,000 tenements for industrial workers and low-income groups and over 9,000 tenements for displaced persons out of an allotment of Rs. 2 crores by the Central Government. At present it is engaged in developing an area of about 400 acres of khassan land for co-operative housing societies at a cost of about rupees one crore. Of late, the activities of the Board have been considerably curtailed because loans and subsidies expected from the Central Government have not materialised. Other State Governments have not so far taken very active steps in the sphere of housing. Some of them such as Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Hyderabad have set up Housing Boards quite recently. Others such as Bihar and Mysore are considering similar measures. None of these Boards appears to have started functioning yet except in Uttar Pradesh where construction of houses for workers of sugar factories has been taken up out of a special cess levied by the State Government.

6. Improvement trusts in Bombay, Calcutta, Madras and Kanpur have undertaken housing schemes to some extent. Very often these are rehousing schemes for persons displaced by the activities of these trusts in opening up and clearing residential localities. Municipalities have also constructed a certain number of houses, generally for their own essential staff but occasionally for other low-income groups as well. The total number of houses constructed by local authorities is reported to be 18,771. The main difficulty'in the way of a more ambitious programme of construction has been the lack of funds. Most of the improvement trusts have no independent sources of revenue and have to depend on grants from State Governments or subventions from municipalities. As for municipal finance, it is generally in such a deplorable condition that few municipalities can provide even the minimum service to which the rate-payers are entitled, and can scarcely venture into such costly projects as housing schemes for low-income groups.

7. The activities of the Central Government till quite lately were confined to providing houses for their employees, particularly in essential services connected with communications and transport. The Indian railways have done pioneering work in this line and the total number of houses constructed by them up to the end of March, 1951, was 2,75,917 of which as many as 1,97,535 were meant for low-paid railway employees. The Railway Board have a further programme of construction of accommodation for their staff at a cost of about Rs. 3 -7 crores in 1952-53 and about Rs. 4 crores a year for the rest of the period of the Five Year Plan. The Ministry of Defence also provide accommodation for their employees in various parts of the country. Up to 1949 the number of houses constructed for ordnance workers, for instance, was 22,340 the total labour employed in ordnance factories being only 52,864. The Posts and Telegraphs Department have also undetaken construction of houses for their staff. State industrial undertakings, such as the fertilizer factory at Sindri, the locomotive works at Chittaranjan and the aircraft factory at Bangalore have also constructed houses to accommodate their staff.

8. It is in connection with the construction of houses for refugees from Pakistan that the Central Government first undertook a larg-scale housing programme for persons other than their employees. A major situation was created when as a result of the partition of the country about 75 lakhs of displaced persons came to India from Pakistan and had to be provided with accommodation of some sort. The problem has been tackled to a great extent and well-planned colonies and town-ships in various parts of the country have been developed where not only reasonably comfortable accommodation but also local employment in industry and trades has been provided. The total number of houses completed upto June, 1952, was 94,200 for displaced persons from Western Pakistan. Another 17,300 houses were under construction. In addition, individual displaced persons constructed 37,000 houses with financial assistance from Government. Among major colonies which have been set up are Ulhas Nagar near Bombay and Sardar Nagar near Ahmedabad ; Gobindpur and Hastnapur in Uttar Pradesh ; Chandigarh, Faridabad and Nilokheri in the Punjab. For the displaced persons from Eastern Pakistan, townships are under construction at Fulia and Habra in West Bengal and others in Assam and Bihar. Up to the end of June 1952, 7667 houses had been constructed by Government for the displaced persons from Eastern Pakistan. The total expenditure on housing for displaced persons incurred upto the end of March 1952, by the Central Government, was Rs. 48 crores. The efforts of Government to rehabilitate displaced persons are not yet over and additional funds are being allocated for the purpose. One outcome of this activity is the impetus for bold experiments in new materials and modes of construction with a view to effect utmost economy. Thus, the Punjab Government built nearly 4,000 -houses in stabilised soil with cement plaster on both inner and outer wall. The Ministry of Rehabilitation experimented with the construction of traditional types of houses at Nilokheri, Faridabad and a number of other towns in the Punjab and West Bengal, by organizing the production of all building materials and components and labour under Government auspices, thereby eliminating the services of contractors. The cost of construction was considerably reduced as a result ; at Nilokheri it came to Rs. 4/8/- to 4/I2/- per sq. ft. of the plinth area as against Rs. 7 per sq. ft. with standard materials and Rs. 6/- per sq. ft. with inferior specifications by the Central Public Works Department. In West Bengal also housing at Fulia showed the cost to be Rs. 4/l3/- per s(,. ft. of the plinth area.


9. In respect of provision of houses for their workers, the employers have not a uniform record. A number of them have appreciated tfie necessity of providing accommodation for their workers in and around the work-site in the interest of efficiency as well as for securing a steady supply of labour. During and immediately after the war, several large concerns which had made considerable profits during the period invested part of their earnings in providing better living conditions for their workers. Some of them were prevented from doing so because they could not obtain land at reasonable cost and municipal services could not be assured. On the whole, construction of houses by employers in post-war years has fallen short of expectation. Where accommodation has been provided it has not always been of sufficient size or of satisfactory quality. The employers have generally taken the stand that not they but the State has the responsibility forproviding houses for the working class and that apart from their other handicaps, they have not sufficient means for investing in house building. A few instances of the efforts made by the employers to solve the housing problem of labour may be referred to here. In November, 1950, the Industrial Committee on Plantations decided to adopt two-room standard for all housing in plantations in Northern India and called upon planters to put up houses for 8% of their labour every year. About 25,023 houses were built in 1950-51. in accordance with this scheme which 's still in progress, the From Coal Mines Welfare Fund construction of standard types of houses for miners in a big colony at Bhuli near Dhanbad was undertaken and in 1948-49, 1566 two-room tenements were constructed at a cost of about Rs. 54 lakhs. These tenements were let out at a concessional rate of Rs. 8 per month, of which the worker paid only Rs. 2, the balance being met by the mine-owners. The jute industry appears to have put up the largest number of houses for its workers. Statistics of houses constructed by different industries are not available but, some time ago, a total of 4,28,970 workers were reported to have been provided with accommodation by employers.

10. Co-operative housing societies have attempted, to a limited extent, to provide accommodation for middle and low-income groups. The Madras and Bombay States have been the centres of co-operative activity in this direction. In Madras about 4,000 houses were constructed upto August, 1950, by 273 co-operative building societies. About 12,000 houses were also under construction. In Bombay 3,500 houses were constructed in 1948 and 229 houses were under construction by 315 societies. In Uttar Pradesh 136 societies were registered by 1949 and were provided with facilities by way of sites and loans at low rates. The Textile Labour Association at Ahmedabad constructed 200 tenements and organised workers into co-operative housing societies for providing suitable accommodation for them on hire purchase system. Originally 8 such societies were formed to which 8 more were added after the last war. The major difficulty which faced the Association was paucity of funds and the inability of the Bombay Government to provide substantial assistance. Similar difficulty about obtaining loans at low rates has been experienced by co-operative building societies in other Staces as well.

11. The bulk of the building activity throughout has been in the hands of private enterprise. But for a long time it has not been able to keep up with demand. The trade depression of 1931 dealt a severe blow to the building industry; the level of construction fell between 1931 and 1939. During the war years and immediately thereafter both manpower and materials became scarce and the situation was further aggravated by a phenomenal growth of the urban population. A great defect in private construction, particularly for the low-income groups, is that too often only the barest amenities and services are provided and sometimes, as in the slum areas, even such minimum amenities are altogether absent. The lack of vigorous enforcement of building regulations by municipal authorities has been a potent source of evil and private builders have generally put ug houses with little regard for sanitation and comforts of tenants.


12. Reliable statistics of the number of houses in urban areas are not available. While construction of houses remained almost at a standstill for several years on account of the war and post-war difficulties, urban population grew steadily. The advance census figures of 1951 show that. in the decade 1941-51, while the rural population increased by 7-4% the urban population increased by 53.77%. The corresponding figures of the previous decade were 12% and 32-1% respectively. The Planning Commission made an attempt to obtain a rough estimate of housing shortage in the principal industrial towns. Information received in respect of 37 such towns with a total population of 17,14,560 engaged in large-scale industries shows that the approximate number of industrial workers, who are in immediate need of accommodation, is 4,54,900. The Environmental Hygiene Committee estimated the shortage as 18-4 lakh houses in urban areas in addition to 10 lakh houses for displaced persons from Pakistan. According to the advance census figures of 1951, the population of 74 cities with one lakh or more inhabitants increased in the decade ending in 1951 by about 74 lakhs. Population of towns with 5,000 to one lakh inhabitants increased by 140 lakhs. It will thus be seen that to house this increased population considerable building activity will have to be undertaken.


13. The subject of housing is not specifically mentioned in the seventh schedule of the Constitution of India which deals with matters coming within the purview of the Union and State Legislatures. In so far as housing for industrial labour is concerned, item 24 of list III may be said to cover it because it deals comprehensively with welfare of labour. That would bring the matter in the Concurrent List with which both the Union and the State Governments are concerned. The residuary power in relation to subjects not mentioned in the Concurrent List or the State List, however, vests in the Union Legislature. As such the Centre may be said to be directly concerned with the subject of housing in general. In these times, the State cannot afford to confine its role in this field to planning and regulation. Private enterprise is not in a position to do the job so far as low-income groups are concerned. They cannot afford to pay the economic rent for housing accommodation of even the minimum standards. The State has, therefore, to fill the gap and assist the construction of suitable houses for low and middle Income groups both in urban and rural areas as a part of its own functions. This would involve a large measure of assistance which may take the form of subsidies on a generous scale and the supply of loans on a somewhat low rate of interest. In view of the gravity and vastness of the problem and the financial condition of the States, the Central Government have to accept a large measure of responsibility for financing housing programmes in the industrial centres where congestion and shortage have become very acute in recent years. Provision should also be made to find funds for middle-class housing schemes, preferably through co-operative building societies. We would, however, suggest that the State Governments, who are being relieved to a large extent of the responsibility for industrial housing, should concentrate on ameliorating conditions of housing in rural areas. Although a great deal cannot be expected in view of the financial limitations, a beginning can be made in taking up pilot schemes of model housing and better living conditions in selected rural areas.

14. The principle of interest-free loan and subsidy for housing schemes are not novel ideas as far as the Central Government are concerned. The Industrial Housing Scheme, which was formulated in 1949, envisaged the issue of interest free loans by the Central Government to the State Governments or private employers sponsored by the latter to the extent of two-thirds of the cost of an approved housing scheme, on condition that the rent charged would not exceed 2i% of the capital cost subject to a maximum of io°/o of the workers' wages, the employer contributing 3% of the cost of the houses. Early in 1952 a new policy was announced whereby the Central Government were prepared to pay a subsidy upto 20% of the cost of construction, including the cost of land, provided the balance was met by the employers who would also let out the houses to genuine workers at rates suggested under the earlier scheme. The houses thus constructed would remain the property of the employers.

15. That these concessions have not produced the desired effect seems to indicate that the policy of paying subsidies, which has already been accepted, will have to be further liberalised as well as supplemented by loans. We recommend that subsidy should be paid to the State Governments upto 50% of the total cost of construction including the cost of land. The State Governments in their turn will allocate the grant to the statutory housing boards. The subsidy admissible to private employers of labour and co-operative societies of industrial workers under this scheme should be limited to 25% of the total cost of construction including the cost of land. In addition to the subsidies, loans should be made available to the State Governments for the balance of the cost at a rate of interest which should only take into account the cost of servicing the loans above the current rate of the Central Government borrowing. Such loans should be repayable in 25 years. The State Governments in their rum are expected to make funds available to statutory housing boards out of the Central loan. Loans should also be admissible to co-operative housing societies of industrial workers and to private employers up to 37!% of the actual cost of construction including the cost of land. Interest should be charged at a reasonable rate having regard to the rate at which similar loans are advanced to the State Governments. The period of repayment in these cases should, however, be 15 years. In regard to the co-operative societies, we would further suggest that as far as possible, the subsidy should take the form of grant of developed lands of equivalent value. It will also be necessary in these cases to provide sufficient safeguards in regard to transfer of shares of the members so that by a crange in the composition of the society the houses do not come into the possession of a class for whom they are not intended. We further suggest that where co-operative building societies of industrial workers are not in existence, developed building sites may be made available to individual workers who are willing to construct houses of their own under this scheme on the same terms as are admissible to industrial co-operatives.

16. At the same time we think that provision should be made for loans to co-operative building societies of middle class and other low-income groups who are also in need of financial accommodation no less than industrial workers, though they may not be considered eligible for the payment of subsidy. In their case we think it would be sufficient if loans are made available at reasonable rates of interest. For this purpose we recommend that the Central Government should provide funds for issue of loans to co-operative building societies through the State Governments, who will make the money available to such societies through the State co-operative organisations. The important point is that the difference between the rate of interest at which such loans are made available by the Central Government and the rate at which the co-operative societies are asked to pay should not be more than half per cent in order that the scheme is of substantial assistance to such societies. We lay special emphasis on co-operative housing societies not only because they can mobilise private capital, which otherwise would remain dormant, but because they open the way for aided self-help in the construction of houses which should be encouraged for reducing the cost as much as possible.

17. We recognise, however, that for years to come the bulk of the building activity will still have to be undertaken by private enterprise. In building works on a small scale the private builder can often construct at a rate cheaper than public bodies on account of economy in supervision and personal attention to details. We think that the encourage ment to private builders should take. the following forms :—

  1. provision of suitable building sites, where possible, at reasonable cost ;
  2. empowering the statutory housing boards to guarantee loans which a private builder may obtain from a bank or an insurance company to finance construction of buildings, the buildings in such cases being hypothecated to the housing boards,
  3. reorganising the present system'of distribution of essential building materials, such as steel, cement, coal, etc., and taking steps to reduce the high prices of these materials which are all subject to price control, and for this purpose conducting necessary investigation ; and
  4. provision on the lines of section 39 of the Delhi and Ajmer Rent Control Act XXVIII of 1952, which exempts premises constructed between certain periods, from the operation of the rent fixation law.

At the same time we would suggest that while private builders should be encouraged to the maximum, steps should be taken to eliminate the speculative element inland and to discourage land hoarding in urban areas, for which purpose the taxation structure on vacant lands should be so designed as to make all land hoarding unprofitable. We under stand that steps in this direction have been taken in certain States.

18. Building cost can be substantially reduced by adopting improved techniques which have already been tried in other countries. For instance, production of bricks can be mechanised, at least in the bigger cities, by use of power and improved types of continuous process kilns. Similarly building components such as door and window frames and other building equipment can be standardised, thus making mass production possible. Use ol modern implements and machinery in building construction has not been introduced in India to any appreciable extent. The attention of the building trade is drawn to the possibility of using various types of machinery and tools which are at present employed in advanced countries abroad for construction purposes.


19. The immediate need is the construction of a maximum number of houses for remov ing congestion and providing reasonably decent accommodation in the urban areas within the limited funds available for the purpose. The standards and specifications proposed by various commissions and committees in the past will, therefore, have to be re-examined. The situation being what it is, it seems to us impracticable to insist on standards which it is difficult, if not impossible, to achieve in the present conditions of building cost. All that we can .aim at is that the minimum, from the point of view of health and privacy, is provided, at least for the next few years. On this basis our suggestions are that houses should be built of the two following types :— .

  1. In smaller towns, where land value is low and permits a less intensive development : a single-storeyed tenement with a carpet area of 220 . sq. ft. and an enclosed space of about 250 sq. ft. The tenement will comprise a living-room, a kitchen, a verandah and a water-flushed latrine.
  2. In larger cities where land value is relatively high : multi-storeyed buildings in which each tenement should have a carpet area of about 240 sq. ft. comprising a living-room and a kitchen. The bath-rooms and latrines will have to be shared by a group of flats. In these constructions density of development should not exceed 20 tenements or 100 persons per acre. As far as possible ramps should replace staircases. It is not desirable to build more than 3 storeys unless lifts can be provided.

20. The minimum standards of services should be as follows :—

  1. every unit should have at least one water-tap for drinking-water;
  2. the latrine should be preferably of the water-borne sanitary type which in a single-storeyed unit may have to be shared between two tenements,
  3. effective provision should be made for disposal of kitchen and bath-water through the water-borne system; and
  4. electricity should be provided for lighting, wherever possible.

21. We do not favour temporary constructions for relieving housing shortage, because in the long run the recurring liability proves heavier. It is- not necessary that construction should aim at long life of houses but that it should provide adequate safeguard against instability and risk of fire.

22. Careful calculations have been made of the cost of construction of tenements of the types proposed. According to an estimate prepared by the Central Public Works Department, the cost of construction of a single-storeyed tenement in the smaller towns would be about Rs. 2,200. The cost of land would vary according to locality, but it may be expected that for a plot of about 55 sq. yds., which is the size comtemplated, the cost would not exceed Rs. 500. In the case of multi-storeyed buildings in" larger cities, the calculations made in chapter III, paragraph 17, of the Report of the Environmental Hygiene Committee have been followed with an additional provision of 20% . as the cost of staircase, balcony, etc, necessary in vertical development. In general the construction of a multi-storeyed unit would cost about 51% more than a single-storeyed tenement. The cost of land may be assumed as Rs. 700 to Rs. 1,000 per unit. The total cost of a tenement in a multi-storeyed building in the larger cities should, therefore, be about Rs. 4,500.

23. In calculating rent the subsidy is not taken into account. On the balance a return of 61% is considered adequate to meet the interest charge on the loans which may be obtained from the Central Government or other sources, cost of maintenance at i^% of the cost of construction and municipal rates and taxes at 12^% of rent in the case of single-storeyed tenements and 25% of rent in the case of multi-storeyed tenements. The calculation takes into account the sinking fund charge on the net cost calculated on 40 years' basis. From the point of view of the workers care has been taken to see that, in general, rent does not exceed 10% of the average family earnings. On the basis proposed, the rent of a single storeyed tenement would amount to about Rs. 10 per mensem and of a tenement in a multi-storeyed building about Rs. 18/- per mensem in both cases inclusive of municipal taxes. It may be pointed out that even now the workerpays as rent Rs.y to 10 per mensem for such inferior accommodation than is envisaged under the scheme. There should not, therefore, be any reasonable grievance in the matter of fixation of rent.

24. In this connection we would like to refer to the objections raised in certain quarters to the proposal for, subsidising constructions^by employers for housing their workers. It has been urged that as the houses will belong to private employers, there can be no justification for subsidising them from public revenues. A^closer examination will show that the subsidy, in fact, does not amount to any substantial concession. We do not [propose that the employers should have absolute right of ownership in these houses. We suggest that the management of these houses should vest in a committee consisting of the representatives of the employer and employees concerned together with a chairman nominated by the State Government. Tills committee will be responsible for allotmtnt of tenements and generally for the management of the housing estate. We also proposeJ-hat a tenant, who ceases to be in the employment of the employer who owns the property, must be given a reasonable time for vacating the tenement. The ordinary trade union rights of access to the workers must similarly be guaranteed. These provisions should be laid down in the agreement to be entered into by the employers when obtaining subsidy and loan from the Central Government. Later, it may be desirable to have the provisions incorporated in the proposed legislation on housing or in statutory rules framed thereunder. It will thus be seen that the ownership which we envisage is of a limited, indeed nominal, character. The employer owns the building only in the sense that his own employees, and not others, are housed therein. The -employer also should have no objection to these provisions because by obtaining subsidy and loan at a cheap rate, he can provide accommodation for his employees, which is ultimately to the benefit of his concern. Even the fact that about 37^ % of the total cost will have to be initially borne by him does not mean any loss. The provision whereby the sinking fund charges are spread over 40 years, ensures recovery of the outlay, because ihe houses of the specifications proposed would last longer than 40 years. From the point of view of the State too, there should not be any objection to what seems, on the face of it, to be an outright grant to private employers because the immediate object is to house as large a number of industrial labour as possible and it can only be done by inducing capital to be invested in such schemes by an offer to meet a part of the initial cost. There is no other way in which large scale house-building can be undertaken for low-income groups in the present situation. It may be pointed out that the argument has no application in the case of the houses constructed by the State Government and the housing boards which will remain public property or the houses constructed by co-operative societies of industrial workers which will be owned by the society on what amounts to a hire-purchase basis.


25. Originally the provision of the Central assistance towards industrial housing in the five year period was Rs. 13'5 crores and it was expected that a contribution of Rs. 15 crores each would be forthcoming from the employers and workers and that the State Governments would provide an amount of Rs. 37 crores. It was, however, suggested that an alternative scheme for raising finance would be to utilize money in the provident fund accounts created under the Employees, Provident Fund Act. We have reviewed our recommendation in this regard and we are now of the opinion that advantage should be taken of the alternative scheme which was put forward by us, namely, to utilize the provident fund deposits without imposing any additional burden on the industry. It is expected that contribution of the workers and employers to the provident fund scheme will amount to Rs. 15 or 16 crores annually, out of which, after meeting the cost of administration and withdrawals, a substantial amount can be expected to be available for investment every year. It is also expected that subsidies to the extent of about Rs. 2 crores per annum will be available from the Central revenues. A provision of Rs. 38'5 crores is accordingly suggested in grants and loans by the Central Government for housing schemes during the period of the Plan. Loans will be advanced to private employers and to workers' co-operatives repayable in 15 years and to the State Governments repayable in 25 years but the standard rent for housing estates will be calculated so as to spread over the period of the redemption of loans to 40 years in all cases.

26. Loans at reasonable rates should also be made available^ (a) to co-operative housing societies of middle and low income .groups referred to in paragraph 16, and (6) to local authorities, for clearance of slums and development of land, which, as will be explained subsequently, is considered an essential part of the housing policy.


27. The solution of the housing problem on a permanent basis has to be linked up with town and country planning. We have already seen how haphazard growth and ribbon development have been caused by inadequate legal powers to control use of land and construction of buildings, though it must be admitted that neither the State Governments nor local authorities have shown a full appreciation of the situation or utilised such powers as they already have to arrest the unhealthy growth. In some States, legislation on town planning has been enacted or is contemplated. It is, however, desirable that there should be a uniform policy in the matter and we recommend that there should be a National Town and Country Planning Act, which would provide for zoning and use of land, control of ribbon development, location of industries in areas considered suitable, clearance of slums, carrying out of civic and diagnostic surveys and preparation of Master Plans.

28. Regional planning has become even more important in viev/ of the implementation of the several river valley schemes and community development projects. Such regional planning should take into account the population, agricultural condition, industries, and communications of a region with a view to secure a balance of population in the particular area between villages, market towns and industrial centres. Such plans will aim at integrating agriculture and industry in rural areas, and will provide for dispersal of industries from existing centres, development of cottage and small-scale industries, services like medical aid, education and recreation facilities.


29. Slums have grown up in practically all the major industrial cities of India as a result of laxity in enforcing building regulations, the indifferent attitude, till recently, to conditions of living amongst industrial workers and the high land values prevalent in certain cities which led the landlords to exploit their advantage to the fullest. These slums are a disgrace to the country and it is a matter of regret that Governments, both Central and State, have so far paid little attention to this acute problem. No city can be considered healthy which tolerates within itself the existence of a highly congested area with only the minimum amenities of lilfc where some of the poorest elements of population are huddled together in almost sub-human conditions. It has beui observed that slums are a national problem. A person who becomes a juvenile delinquent or a tuberculosis case because of slum conditions is no less a national than a local liability. From the national point of view it is better to pay for the cost of clearing slums than to continue to pay the mounting cost of slums and suffer their destructive effects upon human lives and property indefinitely.

30. In certain cities, improvement trusts have made some efforts at slum-clearance. There efforts have been rather sporadic in character, mainly because the improvement trusts, to a greater degree than other local authorities, suffer from limitation of funds. Few of them have independent sources of income and have generally to depend on uncertain grants and subventions from the State Governments and local authorities. The initial cost of acquiring slum areas which under the present state of the law have to be compensated not only at their market value but with an additional surcharge in consideration of the compulsory nature of acquisition, is almost prohibitive, in most areas, for improvement trusts to undertake any large scale clearance of slums. We consider the clearance of slums to be an essential part of a housing policy because the housing we propose is meant for the class of people who are now generally dwellers of slums. In our view the schemes of housing should proceed pari passu with the scheme of slum clearance, at least in the major industrial cities, so that when a housing estate is ready, steps should be taken to remove the slum dwellers to the newly built houses and to proceed with the clearance of the slum area in question.

31. The procedure to be adopted in such cases should be simple and of a summary nature. The competent authority should, after proper survey and enquiry, issue a clearance order. Compensation should be assessed on the basis of the use to which the land was put on the date of the issue of the clearance order. We suggest that no additional compensation on account of the compulsory nature of acquisition should be allowed in case of acquisition of slum areas, because we believe that such compensation ought not to be admissible to properties which are not put to social use. We do not think that the owners of slum areas perform any social service by accommodating large number of the poorest sections of the community in conditions of squalor and filth and we do not see why such social abuse of property should be compensated for over and above the actual value. We agree, however, with the suggestion that where the owners of slum areas themselves come forward to rebuild and develop their properties within a specified period, on standard plans to be approved by the competent authority, there may be no need for t-cquiring such lands for the purpose of clearance of slums. We understand that in certain municipal acts provisions to this effect already exist.

32. We have already pointed out that the main difficulty which hampers a large-scale clearance of slums is insufficient financial resources of improvement trusts and local authorities. We, therefore, suggest that out of the provision ofRs. 38-5 crores for housing schemes in the period of the Plan a certain amount should be set apart every year for issue as loans by the Central Government to improvement trusts and other local authorities through the State Government concerned for providing the initial capital for acquistition and demolition of slums. We recommend that this loan should bear a low rate of interest not exceeding half per cent above the rate at which the loan is made available to the State by the Central Government.


33. The problem of housing in rural areas is a vast one as even now 83% of the entire population of India live in villages. Having regard to the limitations of financial resources, a satisfactory programme of rural housing during the period of the Plan cannot be envisaged. It should, however, be appreciated that the pressure of population shifts towards cities and the slum problems resulting therefrom cannot be solved without ameliorating rural living conditions. Some opportunities for planning in the villages have arisen of late due to reforms in the land tenure system and establishment of community development projects. The problems which confront the rural areas are, however, somewhat different in character and do not call for expenditure of large slums for individual housing units. Unlike in towns, land value, and consequently congestion, is not a principal factor. The immediate needs of the villagers are primarily adequate water-supply, improved communications and arrangements for disposal of sewage and waste-products. Improvement in standards of rural housing should be aimed at primarily by utilising labour and materials locally available with only a modicum of technical assistance. By the use of aided self-help technique, preferably promoted through the Community Projects Administration wherever possible, a significant increase in the standard of living in the villages may be accomplished and the pressure on the cities relieved to a large extent. It seems to us that there are two principal ways in which Government can attempt to improve the standards of housing in the villages, e.g. by demonstrating improved standards through model houses built in selected areas and by assisting the villager to build better types of houses within his means and with the resources readily available to him through methods of aided self-help. Aided self-help housing should, however be planned in such a way that improvement over existing conditions is achieved without prematurely advancing beyond the living habits and means of the villagers.

34. With regard to model houses in selected villages, the fifty-five community development projects taken up under the Indo-American Technical Aid Programme offer the most suitable venue for demonstration of improved techniques and designs for rural housing. Emphasis should be laid on the use of local materials with the object of teaching the villagers how cheap houses can be built which would provide adequate ventilation, remove the proximity of cattle and other animals and provide manure-pits, sanitary latrines and such other simple and essential amenities of decent living. The other method we advocate is, in many respects, a corollary of the first; that is to say, when the villager has learnt the technique of constructing a cheap and decent house within his means, there should simultaneously be a scheme to give practical effect to his desire to build along the lines he has been shown. Self-help in putting up houses has been a feature in Indian villages for generations. It is only necessary to encourage and foster the habit ol the villager to build his own house by utilizing local building materials but providing greater amenities than are now available to him. Certain improvements can be readily effected without much additional cost, such as, improved floors by stabilization, simple devices for ventilation, provision of chimneys in the kitchen to draw away smoke, use of erosion-resistant mud plaster for walls and roofs of improved materials and designs. Aided self-help in housing aims at helping people to build their shelters out of materials available in their community. Generations of trials and error have produced very practical ways of using many kinds of local resources including timber, bamboo, lime, clay, stone, gypsum, sand, kaolin, murram, junglewood, grass and waste products of various types. It is, however, necessary to see that use of local materials does not degenerate into use of unsuitable materials like galvanized iron sheets, packing boxes, salvaged lumber etc. A practical approach, in our opinion, would be for Government to provide technical assistance in the form of skilled supervision and equipment. Pilot projects in selected villages can be taken up to teach the use of local materials. Since our proposals on urban housing practically relieve the State Governments from their share of the expenditure, we think they may be expected usefully to concentrate on improving standard of housing and living conditions in the rural areas. The provision for housing in the State Plans is of the order of Rs. 10-19 crores. The State Governments may, therefore, provide funds for house-building in rural areas by issuing interest-free or long term loans. The money cost of a house built with the villager's own labour is not likely to exceed Rs. 200 to 300 per unit. The State Governments may also perform a useful function by disseminating information regarding experiments in cheap housing which are taking place in other parts of India, such as, the pot-tiled vaulted roofing in Hyderabad State and stabilized soil construction in the Punjab.

35. In this connection we should like to cite the example of aided self-help in Puerto Rico as being worthy of emulation in India. Conditions in Puerto Rico are similar in many ways to those obtaining in this country. There, a rural development programme included secure tenure of building-cum-garden plots with aided self-help in house construction, in gardening, in water-supply and sanitation development and in multi-purpose co-operative activities. The aid given by the State consisted of equipment, materials and skilled assistance costing $ 300 per housing unit. The equipment consisted of a truck for hauling gravel and .sand from nearby sources, concrete mixers, hand-operated cement block machines and wheel barrows. Building materials in the form of lumber, Portland cement and reinforcing steel were also supplied. The estimated cost of each housing unit, viz., $ 300 was advanced to the villager as a loan with provision of repayment in easy instalments of about $2'50 a month. The subsidy involved in the housing aspect of the scheme was the absence of interest on the loan. The cos r of the house, if purchased, would have been $ 1500. Thus by investing his own labour and with a certain amount of help from the State, the villager in Puerto Rico saved $ 1200 or 80% of the cost of a house of much better quality than he could otherwise afford. Owing to the shortage of cement and steel in India, we. shall have to emphasize the need for using local materials. But the principle of aided self-help, as practised in Puerto Rico can, if adopted, result in great improvement in quality at a very low cost.


36. Research in building techniques and materials is necessary for achieving reduction in cost and improving the quality of work. It is also necessary to standardize building components and invent new materials or synthetic substitutes. In the West, building research has made considerable progress and has resulted In the discovery of new building techniques and finish without any substantial increase in cost. Problem of design, functional requirements of buildings, basic studies of. structures, nature and properties of clay, minerals and soil are matters of very great importance which requus research and further study.

37. In India, facilities for such research are provided in universities, such specialized institutions as the Central Build.ng Research Institute at Roorkee, the Forest Research Institute and colleges at Dehra Dun, ihe Indian Standards Institution in Delhi, the Government Test House at Alipore, the Engineering Central Laboratory at Hyderabad, the Soil Mechanics Laboratory at Karnal in the Punjab, and the Road Research Institutes in Delhi and Bangalore. There are also the recognized institutes of engineers, architects and town-planners and the association of builders. Industrial undertakings which manufacture building materials such as the Associated Cement Company, the Tata Iron and Steel Company and the Indian Steel and Wire Products also provide facilities for research. There is, however, considerable scope for expansion and consolidation of the work which is being done by these institutions. In particular, stress should be laid on research in the following subjects :

  1. basic building materials such as bricks, tiles, high tension steel, laminated timber, calcination of ordinary soil for use as bricks and the possibility of utilizing indigenous materials as building components;
  2. possibility of use of substitutes such as timber, bamboo etc. for steel and other traditional building materials;
  3. revision of building codes, specifications and factors of safety ; and
  4. standardization and mass-production methods of building components and materials.

38. In India, experiments in cheap housing have been undertaken in stabilised soil construction in Mysore and the Punjab, hollow sand-cement block construction at Chittaranjan, Bangalore and Ahmedabad, pot-tiled vaulted roof construction in Hyderabad State and cement gunited wall construction by the Western Railways in Bombay. The Government Housing Factory in Delhi has produced prefabricated panels. These experiments offer scope for further research. Consm'nyoos n stabilised soil and sand-cement blocks for walls and pot-,tiled roofs are specially suited for aided self-help housing. In India, although prefabricated housing has made very little progress so far, there is little doubt that manufacture of prefabricated building components offers considerable scope.

39. It is also desirable to organize the building trade in all its aspects including training of labour and techinical personnel of all grades. It is unfortunate that importance of technical training in house-building labour is yet insufficiently realized. In Europe and America, it has been found that training of personnel not only improves the quality of work but expedites the process of building. In India, the building activity in the public sector as a whole is estimated to involve an annual expenditure ofRs. 150 crores. The need of a requisite organisation for training facilities both to economise cost and to intensify the building programme can, therefore, easily be appreciated.


40. Though research is being carried on in different institutions for cheapening cost and improving building techniques, there is no authority to co-ordinate the results of such research and to make it available in a form which would have ready acceptance with Govern ments as well as private firms and individuals engaged in building activity. It is for this reason that the setting up of a National Building Organisation as an important activity connected with housing has become necessary. We suggest that such a body should be set up with the following principal objectives :—

  1. to co-ordinate and evaluate results of research on building materials and technical development now being carried on in different institutions;
  2. to suggest from time to time subjects of further research and development with due regard to their relative importance and urgency ;
  3. to incorporate the results of such research in actual building practice;
  4. to ensure effective utilisation of all available building materials including non-traditional materials;
  5. to guide industry and public in general on the use of new materials and techniques in building construction;
  6. to initiate proposals for increased production of building materials and their proper distribution;
  7. to examine building costs with a view to reduction in overheads and other expenses particularly in the public sector;
  8. to provide museums or standing exhibitions where methods of cheap houses and techniques for economic building can be displayed, explained and demonstrated;
  9. to take necessary steps for the standardisation of building components and to organise production and distribution of such standardised components on a large scale;
  10. to advise Government on technical matters including experiments, research, bull ding education and new techniques; and
  11. to provide for training in building work and improved techniques and to organise refresher courses for engineers and architects.

41. Such a body should consist of persons who are eminent in their professions and whose decisions would carry weight. It must also have facilities for experiments in various types of building materials and it must be associated with a Ministry of the Central Government which should act as its executive wing to translate its recommendations into actual practice. We are, therefore, of the opinion that the Council of the Organisation should consist of such persons as the Chief Engineer, Central Public Works Department, the Director-in-charge of Civil Engineering in the Railway Board, the Road Development Adviser to the Central Government, the Engineer-in-Chief at the Army Headquarters, the Director of the Forest Research Institute, Dehra Dun, and the Director of the Central Building Research Institute, Roorkee. The Council should be assisted by an advisory body consisting of three experts, respectively on steel and concrete, clay products, and timber and forest products. There should be a whole-time Chairman who will coordinate the work of the Council and the advisory body. The National Building Organisation should hold annual conferences on building techniques and designs to which may be invited not only all those who are interested in the subject but, in particular, the Chief Engineers of Roads and Buildings of the State Governments. We consider that dissemination of new ideas through such conferences is of considerable value specially when persons in charge of large constructions are themselves convinced of the suitability of the new techniques and processes.

42. We also recommend the establishment of a permanent museum, or preferably several regional permanent museums, where exhibits of cheap housing can be displayed and the comparative costs, building techniques and methods, use of substitutes for traditional building materials can be studied with profit by engineers, industry and the general public.


43. We recommend the setting up of housing boards which would be statutory autonomous bodies appointed by Government and responsible for implementing the housing programme. Such boards should be both Central and Regional and should have an executive body with a president, a whole-time secretary and not more than five other members, some of whom at least should be specialists in town-planning, architecture, and the social, economic and financial aspects of housing problems. The boards may have associated with them advisory bodies consisting of representatives of employers, tenants, building trade and the general public.

44. The principal functions of the Central Housing Board may be indicated as follows :—

  1. to administer the Central Housing Fund ,
  2. to activate housing programmes ;
  3. to administer such housing projects as are directly entrusted to it by the Central Government ;
  4. to lay down principles for the guidance of the Regional Boards, regarding selection and development of sites for housing schemes and fixation of priorities in the allotment of tenements ;
  5. to advise on rationalisation on building legislation and to prepare model building bye-laws for adoption by regional and local authorities;
  6. to suggest action in regard to slum clearance and improvement in environmental conditions of housing; and
  7. to recommend from time to time any legislation or amendment of existing legislations which have a bearing on the problems of housing, town and village planning, fixation of rents and such allied subjects.

45. There should be a Regional Housing Board for each State where there is an active housing programme; but in suitable cases, there may be more than one board in a State. The principal functions of these boards may be indicated as follows :—

  1. to administer the Regional Housing Fund;
  2. to activate the State building programme;
  3. to collect information regarding housing needs of different classes of people and to undertake surveys for the purpose;
  4. to undertake the construction of houses in selected areas according to approved plans;
  5. to allot tenements to workers and other low-income groups in accordance with the policy laid down by Central Housing Board;
  6. to establish new townships and industrial suburbs and to prepare Master Plans for the same;
  7. to undertake and encourage slum clearance and improvement of existing-conditions of housing within their jurisdiction;
  8. to undertake maintenace of houses and other properties belonging to the Board and to realise rents for the same;
  9. to encourage self-builders both in the shape of co-operatives and individuals;
  10. to organise building trades and to provide facilities for vocational training for building labour;
  11. to guarantee loans taken by private builders for house-building, provided adequate securities are furnished; and
  12. to organise training for building-labour generally and in specialised types of work, such as laying patent-stone floors, reinforced cement concrete roofs and beams, etc.

46. The housing boards which we envisage should be statutory autonomous bodies, It will, therefore, be necessary to provide them with independent sources of income in addition to grants and subsidies which may be made available from the Central or the State Exchequer. While it is true that for many years, the Central Government will have to subsidise the construction of houses for the lowest-income groups and also to provide funds in the shape of loans, it is our intention that the housing boards should be financially self-supporting to a large extent so as to undertake housing programmes on their own, if not for the lowest-income groups, at least for the middle classes. In States where improvement trusts have been set up, it may be considered whether their functions cannot conveniently be amalgamated with those of housing boards, the aims and objectives of both the organisations being more or less similar.

47. The principal sources of revenue of housing boards may, therefore, be stated as follows :—

  1. grants from the Central or State Governments and municipal authorities;
  2. rents and recoveries from housing estates constructed by the boards;
  3. sale proceeds of lands acquired for development by the boards;
  4. betterment levies which the boards may be authorised to charge from persons benefiting from an improvement scheme;
  5. terminal tax on passengers and goods, arriving by road or rail, in cities where housing programmes have been undertaken within the jurisdiction of the boards;
  6. issue of housing bonds with the consent of the Central or the State Government, as the case may be, at rates half per cent above the current rate of Government borrowing; and
  7. loans from banks, insurance companies and such financing institutions on terms to be approved by Central or State Governments;

An additional surcharge on stamp duty on the value of immovable property transferred or mortgaged within the State is also recommended for those States where there is still scope for an increase in the rate of stamp duty.


48. We have already indicated the lines on which the proposed Housing Act and the Town and Country Planning Act should proceed. Here we shall confine our remarks to certain amendments in the existing legislation, which are considered desirable. We are of the opinion that the basis of assessment of compensation in the Land Acquisition Act of 1894 requires modification in respect of acquisition of slum areas as well as of lands which will be needed for the housing schemes. At present the cost of acquiring slum areas is prohibitive because not only their market value but an additional compensation at 15% has to be paid in consideration of the compulsory nature of acquisition. It may be that when a slum has been demolished and the area cleared and developed, the land can sometimes be disposed of at a reasonable price, especially if it is situated in the heart of a city. It is not, however, possible for housing boards and improvement trusts with their meagre resources, to make a considerable outlay for the purpose of acquiring slum areas and demolishing slums in the expectation of a reasonable return at a distant date. We, therefore, suggest that the Act should be modified in respect of payment of compensation which should be on the basis of the use to which the land was put on the date of the issue of the preliminary-notification. We do not think that any additional compensation should be admissible for acquiring either slum areas or lands required for housing scheme for the industrial workers and low-income groups. The Act should also be amended so as to provide for a speedier procedure for taking possession of lands on which housing projects are contemplated or where slum areas are lo be cleared. Without such a provision neither the housing schemes nor schemes for clearance of slums will be expedited as the normal procedure of land acquisition is often very protracted.

49. We would also suggest that the various State legislations on the control of rent should be made uniform. In order to encourage private construction, without which the problem of housing cannot possibly be solved in the near future, provision may be made to exempt newly-constructed houses from the operation of the rent control legistlation for an initial period of, 'say, 4 years. The civil courts, however, should have jurisdiction, on the applicat on of parties, to fix fair rents (excluding municipal rates ) even in such cases on the basis of a reasonable return on the cost of construction, including services. With regard to the acquisition of premises for public purposes, we would recommend that the practice should be resorted to only exceptionally. It cannot be denied that requisitioning of premises on an extensive scale in recent years has had a deterrent effect on the building activity in the private sector. We would, therefore, urge upon Governments, both Central and State, to be cautious in having recourse to requisitioning house properties in times of peace.

[ Home ]
^^ Top
<< Back to Index