Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Rising costs of shelter, cities are not for common man?

Rising rent for rooms in Bangalore
I still remember that kid sitting on a small stone in front of a newly rising residential building. He was smiling after decorating his face with cement powder. After finishing with face he was searching for something to play. Unfortunately there was nothing other than stones, cement and iron rods. Slowly he raised his head and looked towards his father and mother; alas, what could they do? they were sweating under the November sun so that they could earn something towards the mounting living expenses. After looking towards them for some time he turned left and started looking towards the sunny sky. Suddenly the question came to my mind - "where does he stay?" It didn’t take much time to know where he stays - in a small temporary shed made of hollow bricks, which he possibly share with at least 7-8 other people.

As I was already late, I simply walked past him, but the scenario was very much alive in front of my eyes. Suddenly another question came to my mind, how long it will take for him to stay in the residential complex for which his father and mother works? I don’t know, I really don’t know. It's a hard truth in the suburban Bangalore - a place which was not even present in the city map some two decades ago. Now for the same place we have to pay close to 10000 INR for a two room, one hall one kitchen flat, that too excluding the current bill. The situation may not be different in other cities. If this is the case in a sub urban area where buildings are constructed like sticks in a match box then what will be the condition in the centre?

Every day I am seeing people who are always on the run. People from the nearby places coming with their families and working in the construction sites, often lives in a temporary one room shed. Life is too heavy for them, work will start early in the morning and sometimes extends to late night. Many are often working in the night shifts to get get some extra money.

How fast the old motto roti, kapada, makan (food, cloth, and shelter) become history!!! Now parties are not preparing their manifestos based on the living standards of the voters but based on the religion, caste they are in. Liberalization certainly helped many poor Indians to break the threshold line and entering to the booming array of middle class. Unfortunately it didn’t make us an industrialized country. Main Industries prospered here - not the one which makes engines for cars but the real estate, not the one which creates toys for export but the one which exploits the unprocessed iron ore from virgin forests.

The rise in the property value may be much higher than that of yellow metal. Rise of the cities also raised the income of common man but so (or more) as the cost. Indians may not paid this much amount of money simply to 'stay' at any point in History.

Still I shocked when I heared about a 54% increase in rent. It took some time for me to digest the facts - this increment is over and above the 10% we already suffered over the last two years. The case is not so different for many other people; slowly the cost of living is overrunning cost of other two basic requirements of life - cloth and food? This is not limited to renting a home, story is same if you are going for an outright purchase of a flat. People need to pay tens of lacks of rupees to small room apartments, which hardly provides any breathing space. The easy money available from the banks made the situation worse. Option of living in credit made it possible for people to buy real estate for bind blowing prices (and able them to spend the rest of their life by repaying the loans).

To where we are going? The days of affordable housing are already over? Are we paying too much for the rooms? I am not a person who supports government's micromanagement in every sector of human activity. Still I am forced to ask, will the administration come up with some upper limits? Such high rents are difficult for Small and Medium Enterprises too. But the difference is, they can relocate to other places, but for people it is not so easy!


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