KARACHI: Mass migration from rural areas to cities will lead to an increase in katchi abadis or unplanned settlements in all of Pakistan’s cities, warned Karachi’s former nazim Mustafa Kamal.
He and other experts discussed the existing housing crisis at a conference recently held, said a press release on Tuesday. The conference was attended by people from the Association of Builders and Developers, House Building Finance Company Ltd, Pakistan Housing Authority, Grand Leisure Corporation, Lyari Development Authority, NESPAK, Institute of Architects Pakistan among others.
The objective of the conference was to highlight the importance of the housing construction sector for the development of the economy.
Kamal said that the government must face this reality of mass migration and come up with a workable policy for housing that safeguards the lives and properties of urban residents. Katchi abadis are centres for crime, for illegal water and electricity connections and the spread of illness and disease due to open sewage, he added.
Former adviser and economist Dr Kaiser Bengali commented on how new housing schemes will not meet the needs of the struggling low-income population of the country. The best way to address the housing shortage is to make more serviced land available for the homeless, and help them build their own homes. He said that the existing housing stock for the upper-middle class group was unoccupied and that new housing schemes were being driven by the motivations and objectives of speculators.
Dr Bengali spoke on a panel with the title, “New Housing Schemes and Planned Cities”. Following him, Dr Tasneem Siddiqui, the CEO of the non-profit agency Saiban, said that that the best way to achieve housing for the low-income group is to allow them to build incrementally on a self-help basis.
The topic of housing finance was handled by Azhar Jaffri, the MD of the House Building Finance Company Ltd, and bankers from Meezan Bank Ltd and Bank Islami. SM Muneer, the President of the Pakistan India Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said that housing finance in India is provided to the public by five different groups of institutions namely: scheduled commercial banks, scheduled co-operative banks, agricultural and rural development banks, housing finance companies, state-level apex cooperative housing and finance societies. The housing finance sector in India has experienced an unprecedented change in its structure from its formulation stage. Indian housing finance has moved from the stages of being a solely government provided service during the 1970s to a competitive sector with more than 45 housing finance entities providing loans worth more than Indian Rs781 billion to home buyers across India.
Abrar Ameen, the chairman of the Association of Mortgage Bankers of Pakistan, informed the gathering that his association was working with the housing and infrastructure department of the State Bank of Pakistan to create development funds for housing. Commercial banks were almost non-existent in mortgage financing, and only 5,000 units were financed by commercial banks in all of Pakistan in 2011.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 28th, 2012.