State urban housing policy in pipeline
A new State urban housing and habitat policy will be unveiled soon. Senior officials of the Tamil Nadu Slum Clearance Board (TNSCB) said the process of drafting and releasing the policy is in progress.
“The process is under way and the policy will be announced soon,” said a senior official, refusing to divulge further details on the policy and its contents.
The National Urban Housing and Habitat Policy (2007) mandates that every State government in consultation with urban local bodies would create a supportive environment and prepare a State Urban Housing and Habitat Policy (SUHHP).
Activists, however, said a recent programme titled ‘Workshop on Integrated Urban and Regional Planning and State Housing and Habitat Policy in Chennai’ held on June 2 and 3 by the Tamil Nadu Housing and Urban Development Department was held behind closed doors and did not include crucial stakeholders, including urban local bodies or civil society groups.
Officials from the Board, on the other hand, said they had been constantly interacting with urban local bodies groups to help formulate the policy.“The main objective of the meeting was to draft a strengthened housing policy. But neither did they include members of civil society groups nor was there any discussion about including a participatory approach in the drafting process,” said Vanessa Peter, policy researcher, Information and Resource Centre for the Deprived Urban Communities.
D.Nagasaila, advocate and member of People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), said the new policy should stress on providing humane and holistic housing to the economically weaker sections, where they can live with dignity, and that they must regularly be kept in the loop as officials take crucial decisions. “In the end they are the ones going to live in these houses and their opinion matters,” she said.
Pointing out to the TNSCB resettlement sites, Ms. Nagasaila said, “There are houses where roofs and balconies keep falling off; there are gaping holes in those narrow staircases; most buildings are not disabled friendly and most importantly women and children are under constant threat of getting exploited as there is no social security or employment. Officials must be sensitive to all these issues while formulating the policy,” she said.