PERMANENT MISSION OF INDIA TO THE UN, GENEVA
34th SESSION OF THE HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL
(27 February to 24 March, 2017)
AGENDA ITEM 3: Interactive Dialogue with SR on as a component of the right to adequate standard of living and on the right to non-discrimination.
(2 March 2017)
Statement by H.E. Mr. Ajit Kumar, Ambassador & Permanent Representative of India to United Nations Offices and other International Organizations in Geneva
We thank the Special Rapporteur on adequate housing for the report on her Mission to India in April 2016.
- The SR in her report has pointed out that India faces sizeable gaps in infrastructure and essential services required for the enjoyment of the right to adequate housing. SR has also cited issues such as forced evictions, widespread displacement due to large scale development projects and limited access to justice on human rights relating to housing.
- I would like to point out that in India, provision of housing, especially for the underprivileged sections of the society, is one of the core priority areas. Various policies and programmes formulated by the Government of India and implemented through state level public housing agencies viz. Housing Boards, Development Authorities, Improvement Trusts, Slum Clearance/ Improvement Boards etc. have had significant positive results in the overall living conditions of the poor at large.
- Though the Indian Constitution does not provide for any specific housing rights available to its citizens, housing rights have found mention in the various favourable judgments of the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India, the apex judicial organ of the country.
- India’s first National Housing Policy formulated in 1988 aims at promoting sustainable development of habitat in the country with a view to ensuring equitable supply of land, shelter and services at affordable prices to all sections of the society. It seeks to earmark land for Economically Weaker Sections and Lower Income Group in new housing projects for provision of affordable housing.
In fact, in June 2015, Prime Minister of India Mr. Narendra Modi launched a flagship project 'Housing for all by 2022' envisaging construction of 20 million new houses by 2022. This project will pave the way for affordable housing to people in the country. Many State Governments such as Rajasthan, Odisha, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Telangana and others have also promulgated ‘affordable housing’ policies with some degree of success.
- We are aware that the growing income inequalities along with unprecedented challenges posed by urbanization have made adequate housing one of the most vital concerns of our age. In India, the absolute housing shortage in terms of the difference between the number of households and number of housing stock in urban areas has significantly reduced. Urban housing shortage in India, estimated to be 18.78 million is an area of concern for us. To achieve the targets housing for all by 2022, major demand and supply side interventions as well as other measures have been initiated by the Government of India which inter-alia include simplifying foreign investments in the country through automatic route, and allowing External Commercial Borrowing for affordable housing and slum improvement projects to enable availability of cheaper funds.
- Under the National Urban Livelihood Mission, shelters for urban homeless and infrastructure for street vendors are provided. The Government of India has set up a Working Group to study the impact of migration of housing, infrastructure and livelihood in urban areas, so that appropriate product mix of housing supply market catering to migrant population of various income segments can be devised along with infrastructure and livelihood support programmes.
- SR in her report has cited that the Smart Cities Mission would lead to unaffordable houses, more eviction of informal settlers, lack of priority to housing etc. However, we would like to emphasise that this Mission intends to provide core infrastructure and decent quality of life to its citizens, a clean and sustainable environment and application of Smart Solutions. The Mission guidelines permits Greenfield development and stipulate that of the total housing provided in Greenfield development there should be at least 15% in the affordable housing category. Moreover, in order to bring accountability and transparency in the sector for improving governance, for protecting consumer interest and speedy mechanism for adjudication of disputes, the Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Bill, 2016 has been passed by the Parliament.
- Drawing upon the lessons learnt from the past programmes and in order to have symbiotic balanced regional development, the Government of India has launched the National Rurban Mission which is being administered by the Ministry of Rural Development and is aimed towards making villages smart by stimulating local economic development, enhancing basic services and creating well planned Rurban clusters.
In this year’s national budget, the Government of India has proposed to construct 10 million houses for the homeless by 2019. The allocation for the Prime Minister’s Housing Scheme has been given a substantial increase and housing has been given the infrastructure status with concomitant benefits.
- While once again thanking the SR on Adequate Housing, we would like to point out that the recommendations such as adoption of national legislations on adequate housing, right to curb housing discrimination, address homelessness, a national moratorium on forced evictions and demolitions of homes, protection of livelihood in the event of eviction and resettlement, etc. are very generic and have to be reviewed/implemented depending upon national policies, ground realities and legal & legislative frameworks as well as practicability of these recommendations in the local context.
- In conclusion, we reiterate that India explicitly recognizes the role and importance of adequate housing for its socio-economic transformation and affirms its commitment to the larger goals of equity and eradication of poverty, inclusive prosperity and opportunities for all, which also conforms to our larger objectives under the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
Thank you, Mr. President.