Chandigarh: Sector 53 housing scheme too leaves out middle class with ‘out-of-reach’ pricing

January 15, 2023
Chandigarh: Sector 53 housing scheme too leaves out middle class with 'out-of-reach' pricing

CHANDIGARH: As the Chandigarh Housing Board (CHB) prepares to launch its Sector 53 housing scheme, touted as its most expensive scheme ever, The murmurs of lack of affordable housing in the city is getting louder.

The recent Supreme Court judgement freezing the floor area ratio has further raised doubts whether the government agency will be able to lower its prices for the new proposed inventory. The scheme could not be launched in 2018 after a demand survey revealed that there were not many takers for the scheme because of the high cost of dwelling units.

For 492 flats total planned to be constructed under the scheme, in the demand survey only 178 applications were received. A one-bedroom set was priced at Rs 86 lakh, 2BHK for RS 1.28 crore and 3BHK at Rs 1.5 crore. This had raised the question at what kind of buyers the CHB was targeting its housing products.

CHB launched its last housing scheme in 2016. It also received poor response for the same reason – unaffordability. Against 200 two-bedroom flats offered, around 225 applications were received.

Even its proposed Chandigarh IT Park scheme, currently stuck up in approval issues, the prices were out of reach of the middle class. The expected price of a three-bedroom flat is Rs 1.9 crore, a two-bedroom around RS 1.3 crore and a four-bedroom flat for Rs 2.75 crore.

Established in 1976, the CHB primary mandate is creation of affordable housing. It has constructed more than 67,000 units, more than half of it’s for the economically weaker sections, around 34,000, most of these were consumed in slum rehabilitation programmes. But a segment, which has largely been left out, particularly, in the last decade or so is the middle class or middle-income group. CHB has constructed around 11,000 units, which can be considered to have met the housing needs of the middle-income group.

CHB officials have long contended that the land costs in the city are too high, which leave little scope for affordable housing. “Also, restrictions in terms of floor area ratio, density and dwelling units create a situation wherein costs rise,” said a CHB official. A ministry of home affairs (MHA) letter in October 10, 2012 stating land for any purpose must not be disposed of below the market value and without auction, has further complicated the issue of affordability for the CHB.

In the case of the Sector 53 scheme too, the CHB had requested the UT administration to increase the FAR to 2 from 1.5, density to 350 from 250 PPA and height to G+6 from G+5 on the pattern of adjoining UT employees housing scheme in Sector 53. The housing board had submitted that to make it an affordable housing scheme, there was an urgent need to increase FAR. By offering more space, the buyers can be enticed to invest in the scheme, it had submitted.

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