CSR and Housing

CSR or Corporate Social Responsibility refers to business practices involving initiatives that benefit the society.

According to the Minister of Corporate Affairs, slum redevelopment will be treated as a CSR activity.

BJP’s election manifesto was to usher in a low-cost housing policy that would ensure every family in India a house by the year 2022 (75th year of Indian Independence).   Hence the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana was launched in the year 2014.

Ministry of Corporate Affairs has clarified that slum redevelopment or housing for the Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) could be covered under eligible CSR category of “measures taken for reducing inequalities faced by socially and economically backward groups”.

Even if slum redevelopment qualifies as CSR activity, experts caution that a gray area would crop up if a slum area is taken up for construction of villas and the slum dwellers are rehabilitated by the builders.  Hence, Housing For All (or HFA 2022) stipulates on the requirements of the scheme as in-situ slum redevelopment.

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Housing for All by 2022

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On June 9th, 2014 the Prime Minister of India, Mr. Narendra Modi revealed the ‘Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY)’.  The idea behind this scheme was to provide ‘Housing for All (urban) by 2022 (HFA 2022)’, 75th year of Indian Independence.  The beneficiaries of this scheme would be the poor living in the urban area.  The mission was launched on 25th June,2015.

The mission seeks to address the housing requirements of urban poor including slum dwellers through these programme verticals:

  • Slum rehabilitation of slum dwellers with participation of private developers using land as a resource
  • Promotion of affordable housing for weaker section through credit linked subsidy
  • Affordable housing in participation with public and private sectors
  • Subsidy for beneficiary-led individual house construction.

Government of Karnataka Cabinet approved implementation of HFA on 16th December 2015. Bangalore was one of the urban areas selected.

In the budget presented on February 1st, 2017,  Rs.6,042 crores was allocated for PMAY for urban areas.  Also, greater participation of private developers was suggested.

Government of Karnataka Cabinet approved implementation of HFA on 16th December 2015. Bangalore was one of the urban area selected.

Read the HFA Guidelines here

Written by  Shalini Vasudeva

Project Suitcase- Prototype 03

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Building the third suitcase prototype

 

Prototype 03 was assembled in contractor JMC’s site inside RMZ Ecoworld campus, Bangalore to test the suitcase unit in external weather conditions.Both JMC and RMZ project managers were supportive of our undertaking.

The unit was given public access. We welcomed inputs from the construction workers who were working on the construction and after it.

Even during the assembly stage, there were curious questions from on lookers “Is this our new site office or a house?”, “Is there a window?”, “Can we enter inside?”, “This structure is becoming stronger day by day!!”. Slowly and steadily they saw the unit come up to settle all their doubts. This was a truly inclusive process!

From the previous version, the size of the structure was reworked. A 12 inch high plinth of size 10 feet x 12 feet was laid for the structure to be assembled on. This was done by JMC workers themselves, under RMZ’s instructions. Each panel was 4 feet wide making the core size 8 feet x 8 feet. The corrugated galvalume sheet was replaced by plain sheet which was easier to fix, making the joinery simple and easy to execute. This however makes the structure more open to dents, though strength is not compromised. Provision for storage was made in the rear, to thermally insulate the structure from the western sun. The kitchen and the verandah were 4 feet x 4 feet each. Prototype 03 was assembled in 7 days, but over a period of 3 weeks due to non-availability of fabricators. 

Over the period of construction we received inputs from fabricators, contractors, architects and civil engineers, and non technical people too. Our team was not happy with the finish, the final outcome. We invited a slotted angle fitter who installs shelves for a living to study the structure for bettering the joinery. We realized that the structure could be assembled by a slotted angle fitter with minimal drilling. The plinth tie was critical to hold the entire structure together. We monitored the prototype for a year. During monsoon season we noticed seepage at the plinth level and quickly responded to it by having a 3” cement band internally and externally touching the plinth tie. We noticed that the core needed more ventilation during summer afternoons and the kitchen front panel had to be of a thicker heat absorbing material to accommodate a chullah for cooking.

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We invited slum dwellers to visit the structure and documented their responses. They asked for a slightly bigger core area so that a family of four could sleep comfortably. The verandah space was well received. A demarcated space for kitchen and storage racks were appreciated. Construction labourers on the JMC site were excited to see the final outcome. “We never imagined building a house was so easy!”,”Can we build this in our camp?”,”We use this space to relax during our break time and it is comfortable.” were some comments we received. The responses received from the people were over whelming. We were now equipped with the knowledge needed to assemble a suitcase unit and build confidently for a family to live.

Project Suitcase- Building the second prototype

Prototype 2 was assembled in RMZ ECOWORLD, Bangalore site office in the interior of a construction site.
Materials:
Corrugated sheet was used for wall paneling and roof along with 14 gauge M.S slotted angles and palette rack.
Learning:
• The structure had to be assembled by a slotted angle fitter.
• The corrugated sheet couldn’t be used as wall paneling because the nut and bolt joineries did not align with the corrugation.
• The door for the unit needed a lighter material and single shutter.
• A horizontal tie was needed to hold the structure together at plinth level.

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The Cost of Urbanization

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The world population is vastly divided up on the basis of various factors. With the onset of urbanization in last few centuries, there was an influx of rural inhabitants to urban settlements. This division showed drastic differences in the urban and rural people – from their means of livelihood, their lifestyles, their sense of community and their infrastructure.

Despite the surge in development, the improved living conditions of the urban settlements failed to equally influence rural settlements. Consequently, a large gap between the standard of living of rural and urban dwellers is very evident.

For a clear understanding of the importance of rural settlements, the statistics are important to heed. In recent years, a historic change in urban population passed the half mark and now only 46.5% of the world’s population live in rural areas. But even with this transition, rural inhabitants are predominantly below the poverty line. About 70% of the world’s poor live in rural settlements.

In spite an overall decrease in developing world poverty percentages, there are still more than 2 billion people who live on less than 2 USD a day[I]. Out of the 1.4 billion in extreme poverty (less than 1.25 USD a day), 1 billion live are rural dwellers[II]. These figures are only very slowly improving and lots can be done in their aid.

Where does South Asia and specifically India stand in relation to these figures. Unfortunately, India is at the upper end of most affected developing countries. 20.6% of the world’s poor live in India[III]. 67.6% of India’s population live in rural areas[IV], over 80% of whom live on less than 2 USD a day.

These astonishing numbers only prove how slow the progress to stability in India is. There are so many questions are to be answered. Where do these people live? What is being done to help them? And most importantly, what more can be done?

[I] World Bank Poverty Review [II] IFAD Rural Poverty Report 2011 [III] Shawn Donnan- Financial Times, May 9 2014 [IV] Rural Population Data, World Bank