Saturday, November 26, 2005

Urban Housing Problem: Rent Control Act - A Blessing ??

As discussed earlier in this blog urban housing problem is huge. This does not include only the slum issue, was has been detailed here earlier, but also the rental market in big urban centers.

Rent Control Act, freezes the rent a landlord can charge the tenants at 1940 levels as far as tenents stay and also limits the increase in rents per year. Intended to provide low cost housing alternatives to many. But it has caused the rental market to shrink, denying incentives to landlords to maintain their properties causing frequent building collapses , or forceful removal of tenants and in general worsening the situation for the poor.

In this article Dilip argues as to why this act hasnt being touched.
India Together: Nobody touches the Act - 24 November 2005

Strolling through downtown Bombay one day during the recent monsoon, I passed a sign nailed high on an entrance to a building. It said: "This building is dangerous. It may collapse at any time. Enter at your own risk."

An unsettling sign any time. But at the time, it carried a special meaning, because the city was in the midst of what at least two papers called an "epidemic" of building collapses: four in a week. The most recent had been the previous Monday. An 80-year-old edifice near the old Metro cinema crumbled, killing six people.

One more tragedy, in a monsoon season laced with tragedy.

So laced, that even the words took on special meanings. Take "collapse". On that terrible July 26, an entire Saki Naka hillside collapsed, destroying over a hundred huts and 75 or 80 lives. Take "epidemic". Two weeks after the July deluge, people began dying of diseases contracted that day, likely by walking through chest-deep water contaminated with urine and faeces and other random bits of Bombay filth.

Over two hundred people died like that.

And then, the building collapse epidemic.

Yet the truth is that buildings that crumble are an old Bombay tradition. Every monsoon, a few more give up the battle to stay erect. Weakened by years of neglect and disrepair, they come down, invariably taking lives. And behind all this are, as is another Bombay tradition, some intricate and often seedy goings-on.

In 1996, the Tavadia building in Bora Bazaar collapsed, taking 18 lives with it. About six weeks earlier, a man was found dead in a cinema theatre in Pune. One Ramesh Kini, he was a tenant in a building in Dadar owned by one Laxmichand Shah.

Why have I mentioned both these probably forgotten episodes, and in the same paragraph?

Continue reading the article on the India together site.


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