Large per cent of the population of India is residing in temporary houses of mud, bamboo, thatched or erected from waste products in a very crude form. The temporary houses (Jhuggi) are not only unsafe but unhygenic to live in.
Government of India and all state governments in India are aware of this massive problem and hence have established housing boards for development of housing sites and mass construction of houses. The national housing policy emphasises on the following:
1. Arrangement for selection and promotion of proven technology.
2. Promotion of manufacture of building materials and components through financial assistance, technical help, fiscal concessions.
3. Support extensive network of building centres.
4. Setting up of dedicated organization for technology, research, application and promotion concerning the following areas:
- Building materials and components.
- Selective approach to technology.
- Marketing through building centres.
- Franchising of the building centres.
- Development of appropriate standards.
As a result of this housing policy, a lot of fund flows to educational institutions and research centres for developing low cost housing technology, establishment of Nirmithi Kendras and good number of mass housing works coming under Ashraya Yojana.
Minimum Standards for Cost Effective Mass Housing Schemes
It is obvious that cost of construction is directly proportional to the area covered. In low cost housing economy in the construction is a vital factor, but one should not lose sight of the fact that any economies effected are not worth, if the minimum requirements of basic physical comfort in the dwellings are not met.
In order to meet these twin requirements of economy and comfort, one has to depend to the maximum extent on the cost effective construction technology to provide minimum standard accommodation.
On the recommendations of the planning commission, the Government of India has adopted the following minimum standards:
1. A living room: 11.1 m2
2. A varandah and kitchen: 6.5 m2
3. A bathroom: 1.3 m2
4. A Lavatory: 1.1 m2
Total area: 20.0 m2
Approach to Cost Effective Mass Housing Schemes
The following steps are required to solve accute shortage of reasonable low cost houses:
1. Development of Sites: Government and government agencies should identify suitable sites for developing sites for low cost houses. The sites should be provided with water supply, sanitation, roads, street lighting and public transport facility. The area should be provided with shopping, education and health services to suit socio-economical, cultural and environmental conditions.
2. Financial Assistance: Poor people should be given financial assistance in the form of grant and cheap loan to build the low cost houses.
3. Construct Model Low Cost Houses: Few model low cost houses should be built to show the technology of building low cost houses.
4. Self Help Schemes: Low income people are capable of helping themselves in building shelter at acceptable cost. Self help housing programmes consists of motivating the beneficiaries, extending technical knowhow and skilled worker required for some works.
5. Skeleton Housing: Technical knowhow for building skeleton of housing should be made known to beneficiary. They should be allowed to make certain changes and improvements in final finishing to suit their financial position and taste.
Cost Effective Construction Techniques
Extensive research and development works have been taken place at various research centres to use local materials, waste materials and prefabricated structural components to reduce the cost of construction. Some of the improved cost effective technology are listed below:
1. Foundation: Under reamed piles for foundations have been developed for housing in black cotton soil area.
2. Damp Proof Courses: Use of polythene, bituminous materials and cement mortar with water proofing agents have been suggested for damp proof courses.
3. Walls: Fly ash bricks, precast hollow concrete blocks (without plaster), brick panels and precast wall panels may be used to get reasonably good comfort with little cost.
4. Doors and Windows: Precast R.C.C. frames can save 25 to 30 per cent cost when composed with wooden frames. Instead of wooden shutters particle board shutters may be used.
5. Lintels and Chejja: Locally available stones and slates can serve as lintels and chejja.
6. Precast Structural Elements: In mass constructions works precast members may be used for columns, beams, reapers and stair cases. One can think of using wall panels also.
7. Roof Units: A.C. sheets, cement bonded fibre sheets, paper corrugated sheets, lime and fly ash cellular slabs, solid planks, slates, ferrocement roof units etc. may be used for low cost housing roofs.
8. Flooring: Low cost housing flooring may be with soil cement base, thin clay tiles, bricks on edges or with flagstones. If group housing is taken up automatically there is cost reduction, since mobilization of men, material cost is reduced and continuity of labour work is maintained.