Odisha seeks to double housing land for poor in capital

By Chinmaya Dehuri,

Bhubaneswar : The Odisha government is planning to reserve at least 20 percent of the land for affordable housing, up from 10 per cent at present, according to a top official.

Support TwoCircles

“At present, we have reserved 10 per cent housing land to develop affordable residences for the urban poor in the city. The government though wants at least 20-25 percent land reserved for such schemes,” says Bhubaneswar Development Authority (BDA) Vice Chairman Krishan Kumar.

Kumar, who is also the Commission for Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation, told IANS under the scheme the urban poor can buy a dwelling unit for less than Rs.5 lakh. The BDA has planned to construct about 100,000 affordable houses for the economically weaker sections in all 14 zones of Bhubaneswar.

The Odisha capital, with a burgeoning IT industry, centres of excellence in higher and technical education and advanced medical care, is also a city where 42 percent of the population lives in slums, according to government figures. Also, almost 75 percent of the residents cannot afford a house. The government says it’s working on plans to address this. There are about 500 slums in the city.

Kumar also said the town planning cell has been shifted from the BDA to the BMC to boost to overall development of the city as building plans and approvals can then be linked with the network of drainage and roads.

On the question of finance, a BMC official told IANS: “We are collecting local taxes that can be used to finance the development, growth and administration of the city. We are also running various functions including business institutions in public private partnership (PPP) mode to avoid a fund crunch.”

Besides these services, the city needs intelligent transport system and intelligent street management system to avoid traffic jams, says Odisha Housing and Urban Department Special Secretary Sisir Kumar Ratho.

He told IANS that an Ahmadabad-based agency has already submitted a detailed project report for a Bus Rapid Transit System (BRTS) in Bhubaneswar. Additionally, a pre-feasibility study has also been started for a Mass Rapid Transit System (MRTS) connecting Bhubaneswar and Cuttack, he said.

The proposed BRTS is expected to come up by 2018 with an investment of Rs 460 crore. A detailed project report on this has already been submitted by the Ahmedabad-based Center for Environment Planning and Technology, according to officials.

(Chinmaya Dehuri can be contacted at [email protected])