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Holiday homes squeezing affordable housing in Goa


housing flatsBy Mayabhushan Nagvenkar 

¬†Affordable, need-based housing is fast shrinking in Goa even as the state is being positioned as a luxury destination for the rich and an “ideal” market for investment-oriented second homes.

Top architects in the state claim that excessive speculative housing, which effectively means future housing prices driving a current demand for housing, and the trend of second homes need to be curbed by a comprehensive housing policy.

Speaking on the sidelines of an international architecture forum in the state capital, former chairman of Indian Institute of Architects (Goa) Tulio de Souza said that the total shortfall of need-based housing was as much as 18 per cent.

“On a general level there is about 18 percent shortfall of need-based housing requirement in the state… A lot of housing stock that is being created in Goa is either as second homes to citizens and people from all over the country and the other is the speculative housing,” said de Souza, who was a member of a state government committee some years back, which was formed to draft an official housing policy.

Rapid concretisation of Goa, otherwise known for its tourism prowess and natural beauty, has been a subject of concern for planners and housing experts.

Over the last few years, a steady stream of luxury housing projects, niche gated residencies and mega housing complexes have emerged across the Goan countryside, even as most of the units in their upmarket tenements are vacant most of the year.

A 2011 official census revealed that a quarter of the 500,000-odd registered homes in Goa are vacant and this trend is disturbing as far as creating the space for need-based housing is concerned, de Souza said.

“We, as planners, definitely discourage speculative nature of housing, which is sometimes sought to be projected and results in the entire path of development being skewed,” de Souza said.

“Need-based housing has suffered and as such need-based housing needs to be catered to on a war footing by the government by getting the housing policy drafted immediately,” he added.

In 2011, the Congress-led coalition government had proposed levying a heavy occupancy tax on second homes in an attempt to put curbs on speculative housing.

“Buying a home in Goa for Goans is getting increasingly difficult because a lot of rich people from outside are buying ‘holiday’ homes here. The prices are getting out of hand for the local population. Some outsiders buy homes only for their New Year celebrations. This proposed occupancy tax, we hope, will have a deterrent effect,” Rahul Deshpande, also an architect and a member of the state level committee on land use, had said.

While the proposals eventually did not get implemented, the anxiety over rising real estate prices, which make owning a home a difficult proposition for the ‘Average Goan Joe’, was even reflected in Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar’s first budget speech delivered in the state legislative assembly last month.

“Emphasising our focus in the area of affordable housing, I further propose to formulate a scheme to construct affordable houses for the middle and low income groups on government land identified for this purpose and take up two such housing schemes to begin with next year,” Parsekar said.

De Souza however claims that there is still time to wake up and resolve the housing issue before the real estate market realities get too harsh.

“We may not be in a crisis situation immediately, but definitely there are signals that the planners have to be ready to meet the challenges of the emerging situation,” he said.

According to Amit Sukhtankar, chairman of the IIA, current migratory trends are keeping Goa’s housing demand steady for now but the future is anybody’s guess.

“Real time growth of population along with macro economics, like the kind of industry which the Goa government aims to attract, will define how many houses will be needed in future,” Sukhtankar said.