Slum Bombay: Footage from the 4th Asian Congress of Architects (ACA 4) (tape 12)
Director: Ralli Jacob, Rafeeq Ellias, P.K. Das; Cinematographer: Rafeeq Ellias
Duration: 00:20:46; Aspect Ratio: 1.366:1; Hue: 3.139; Saturation: 0.177; Lightness: 0.077; Volume: 0.114; Cuts per Minute: 1.300; Words per Minute: 128.277
Madhav Deobhakta (architect): Now that's a very interesting question and what we are at the institute doing is whenever the government seeks our involvement, advice or recommendations like for instance when we had this dialogue with the minister on new housing policy. We did solicit opinions of our members and made a contribution in the form of a written kind of a recommendation. But even when our views are not ask for or sought for, whenever there is a burning issue we do take a stand and we have now decided to create a working group which will react in this particular manner. And I believe its not sufficient for us to offer our technical help wherever its sought. But I agree with persons like professor Achwal or (?) that matter who suggest that we should adopt a crusading role where we should come out and take a position on any issue where we think that something is happening which is not in the interest of proper human development. And where our services or our advice is not properly sought we will offer it no matter whether it is accepted, rejected or whatever.
Q: You have mentioned a little while back of generating awareness amongst the people and making audio-visuals and films and other mediums... to take messages to people and enrich links with them... Can you elaborate a little more about that?
Madhav Deobhakta (architect):: I'll elaborate little on that. What we intend to do is in the near future we want to have a series of programs where we want to go out to people either in the cooperative sector or people working in slums and tell them what we can do. And this will be in the form of some kind of audio visual material. It may be like video taped films or it may be some kind of lectures which have been already delivered and have... we have a number of memorial lectures which we have organised in memory of our past presidents - where for example, Dr Meera Bapat spoke about the land policy, how realistic it is and how to what extent it is going to help the weaker sections and things like that. And once in a while or as often as possible we would like to screen them for members of the public in the evening or some specially created occasions. So that they know what we architects are doing or how they can seek our help or how these people coming together by themselves can improve their own living conditions.
Q: Many of the architects bodies (?) then we have definitely a different situation in India at the same time whether it is rich or poor, whether it is Europe or India or anywhere in the world, That is a basic requirement, and that has been defined by United Nations or any other body any where in the world - it is default. But are you sure in India the size of the houses or the requirement of amenities for the small or for slums is being followed around that space, or you agree that it is not so, your body is ready to do anything?
Madhav Deobhakta (architect): Now that's a very good question and what I personally would like to... the government adopt because just as food and health is an important personal requirement, shelter also is a requirement. And of course even though we find that all the socialists systems are crumbling, in one area the socialist system had definitely scored as far as housing is concerned because their planning in public housing or social housing was need based. And they tried to provide housing for example, as the family grew the person got a bigger and bigger accommodation. Whereas what we are trying to do is because of the financial limitations we are shrinking standards.
Madhav Deobhakta (architect): At one time we were thinking that 360 sq ft was the minimum dwelling size. Now when we couldn't provide 360 sq ft we brought it down to 200. Now we are talking of 180 or it may be 100. Now that's no way of solving peoples problem, because the family size remains... either 5 or in certain cases may be 7. So, what certain agencies are doing and there the HUDCO (The Housing and Urban Development Corporation Limited) again is doing a very good work. And one of the schemes which we have encouraged is incremental housing - that you give them basic unit to begin with and then as they go along as their family income grows, the size grows, they are able to provide themselves with a bigger bigger dwelling unit. And that to my mind is a right approach. And in certain countries that is being adopted. And of course we say that the problem is so enormous, the funds are so limited - I think to my mind this is a defeatist attitude.
Q; But as a professional body, are you putting your voice - as a body - that this cannot be changed for one person to another... ?
Madhav Deobhakta (architect): Unfortunately as a professional body we have really not taken any position. But now when we... We have made a beginning because we discussed this national housing policy and now there is a consensus emerging. And I am sure in course of time we will be able to take a position and we will be able to influence the government policy through.
Q: In the building industry in Delhi and land grabs in the country - there is always... who comes in the spotlight of he people in various ways. We know the government is doing a lot and we also know that the government has got problems because they say that we are public sector but there is so much of land and things with the private sector, and resources also. And we believe that this mix will remain. But at the same time there is a lot of poor people who are living in slums and this slum is going on (?) this individual industrialisation of the cities. Now, we are asking you whether - of course you have shown your generosity in sponsoring this big program and also similarly of doing something. Can you name some of the contribution that you have done toward the, the slum development or the poor housing imposes?
Sushil Ansal (Developer and Builder): Quite right, I think you are quite right that generally the private builders are clubbed for development of houses for the affluent only. But it is a not a correct position because now the times have changed.
Sushil Ansal (Developer and Builder): It is quite true when you say that normally private sector is recognised for making houses for the affluent and for the rich people. But now that trend has changed and there are developers who are developing houses for the poor and for the masses. We for instance are developing 2,500 houses for the economically weaker section in Lucknow which we going to give at a price of almost 18,000 rs per unit against a cost of 25,000 rs a unit. That means we are subsidising to the extent of 7,000 rs per unit.
Sushil Ansal (Developer and Builder): Its not that we are losing, ours is not a charitable organisation, but we're cross subsiding it by earning from the affluent houses. And paying off towards the economically weaker section. So there is a definite change now and the change is that - private initiative, private corporate sector can also be motivated to develop houses for the economically weaker section. Not only houses even sites and services. Why should the government alone take upon itself the responsibility? why can't they also involve the private sector to do this? And they are willing to do it.
Q: As the biggest builder I'm sure you've got a large number of employees you require for all constructions work.
Sushil Ansal (Developer and Builder): Yes
Q: Its quite well known that as the country is progressing with socialist ideas every country or every company should try to provide housing to theirs employees. Now, being the biggest employer as far as the labour is concerned... when you want the building work to go faster is there any provision for the employees also?
Sushil Ansal (Developer and Builder): Yes, it is a very valid question.
Q: ... about this particularly.
Sushil Ansal (Developer and Builder): Well as far as the construction workers are concerned we have not really thought of their accommodation. Because for two reasons - 1st the construction worker is a mobile set you know they move from the project to project from state to state. So, its unlike an industry where a worker is stationed when we think of housing the workers. But our staff is more permanent in nature and so we are providing houses for our staff. In fact 5% of the houses that we are constructing for the economically weaker section or for other sites for the economically weaker section or for the low income group, we are earmarking for our staff.
Q: But the government railways employees, income tax employees, various government services are also always transferring and shifting section. But there is always a provision for the housing. But you know as far as the building employees are concerned the lower income group is causing one of the main of the.. main slums in the cities. If you provide housing in each cities for the construction workers, don't you think that will improve the situation?
Sushil Ansal (Developer and Builder): You see the problem will be of the site. Even if we want to provide houses, the government must provide the site for those houses. So, it needs time to put that thing into practice.
Q: You know one of the key issues of housing is finance and when we come to finance we see that the government in its housing policy also has stressed upon the fact that the private sector must take over increasing responsibilities towards housing, and particular for housing economically weaker section. And its housing bank which has been constituted now and even the housing agencies of the government and semi-government bodies are in fact encouraging financing to construction agencies and builders, more than directly financing the cooperative societies and peoples organisations to develop their housing situation. Now, we believe, some believe, some think that this is in a sense encouraging the profiteering of the builders and diverting the funds to business interests of the private sector, for which the private sector is been accused by a large section of our community with... you know, on the housing situation. Could you speak on that?
Sushil Ansal (Developer and Builder): Yes, I wish the facts are better explained because building industry is one industry which is getting this step motherly treatment. In the sense that no commercial bank... do you know the only 0.5% of the total lendable surplus of commercial bank is available for housing industry? And amongst the various house financing institutions which have come up and they also are catering 90% of their funds for the end consumer - that is for the house purchaser and not for the builder. As far as the national housing bank is concern the portfolio for them is to re-finance the financial institutions and not to finance the builders.
Sushil Ansal (Developer and Builder): After lot of hue and cry which we have created they are now thinking that part of the funds must be given to the private builders may be 5% or 10%. To say that if these funds are given to builders it will enhance their profiteering, I think is not correct. Because our industry is being crippled because of lack of funds. If government is really serious that housing problem must be solved then the only way is to liberally give finance to the builders as well as the end consumers.
Q: You know, there is a tremendous contrast between Delhi and Bombay and maybe other cities in the country as compared to Delhi. And in Bombay the experience has been often in the news, in the newspaper and other services, that the builders had been responsible to great extend for evictions of slum dwellers. They have in fact even mustered forces to burn down houses and attack slum dwellers and evict areas so that they can take over lands for development for housing. Is that... what is the position of the builders vis-a-vis the land question in the city of Delhi, because there could be many private lands on which squatters are settled and have occupied them?
Sushil Ansal (Developer and Builder): You see firstly as far as Delhi is concerned there are not many private lands on which this squatting has been permitted. It is only on government lands that one finds squatting. In fact I will say that as far as the slum improvement is concerned or slum up-gradation is concerned, or to bring about better housing to the slum is concerned, a partnership arrangement between the housing boards or the development authorities and the sector is the call of the hour. Because there are certain attributes, certain qualities which are available in private sector which are not available in the housing board or a slum improvement board. Therefore, we have been always propagating if they could be a partnership that two then perhaps slum improvement, slum up-gradation would be far better. So, that is a new concept which the government should really think of.
Q: This is on the space requirement of people. I am sure as a builder you must be making large flats, you must be making bigger size and maybe even lower income group. But you must be perhaps coming down to maybe 300 sq ft of 400, as far as your building is concerned. Probably you are making still smaller.
Q: But there is a general trend now among planners and builders and government in the cities that slum dwellers can live in perhaps 100 sq ft or even 80 sq ft or even smaller small space. Now it is like food, I am sure we all require a minimum food, maybe we can have cake and pudding at the end of the meal, but they need a square meal. What is your opinion on this space, as far as rich and the poor? What should be the minimum? Would you like to control or would you like to impose something on your own?
Sushil Ansal (Developer and Builder): This is very interesting question you have raised. You see as far as the housing for the poor is concerned we have to see the affordability. The question is of affordability not... so space is linked with that. Since they cannot afford much and the government or the private agencies cannot subsidise to a large extent, so that limits the space availability. So for EWS (Economically Weaker Section) and LIG (Lower Income Group), a range between 175 to 250 sq ft is the size within which one can provide a reasonable living.
Sushil Ansal (Developer and Builder): But there must be a limit to high income group housing. That is a ceiling which we can impose. And the under the urban land ceiling and regulation act the limit of a residential apartment is 300 sq meter which also is little high. In fact there is scope of reducing that also to maybe about 200 sq meter or so. So that we have a range from say 15 sq meters to 250 sq meters.
Sushil Ansal (Developer and Builder): Thank you very much. Thank you.
Q: Sorry to make you sweat. It wasn't intentional.
Q. Hello my name is Vijay Kamble. I came from Bombay I teach in slum. I heard about you that you are a magazine editor, you teach in college and I want to ask you something like In Bombay we are listening all time density, FSI what is the definition of all these?