3 Things That Should Ideally Come For Free
This may be wishful thinking at the moment but there is no harm if we wish ourselves well, isn't it? The way India's population is multiplying, questions about space, health and safety are being raised from time to time. At such a juncture, should everything come with a price tag? Every 'need' is looked upon as luxury today, for example, a car parking comes at a cost, so does a house if it is close to an infrastructural blessing, such as the metro network. Here are a few things that should come without a cost.
Space management techniques
As of January 1, 2014, 40 per cent of households were living in two-room homes. A few years ago, the 63rd round survey of the National Sample Survey Organisation brought to the fore that the average size of an Indian house was 494 sq ft in rural areas and 504 sq ft in urban areas. There is no doubt that the pressure on space is immense. Hence, sizes of homes are shrinking. Ideally, car parking spaces, servant quarters, in-built cupboards, balconies, should be necessities in modern day housing units. This takes care of the fact that a family of 4 people is entitled to a right that is fundamental for growth and healthy living. By putting a price tag, these are being looked upon as premium amenities.
The crisis of space is so bad that in areas where there is a job market, rents are high, space is small and the concept of RK's (room, kitchen; excludes the 'H', that is the hall) are popular sidelining the concept of 1BHK. This is a growing trend in cities like Mumbai and its adjoining micro markets such as Thane where housing prices are exorbitant. Even in markets like Noida, the concept of 2.5BHK is gaining ground. The 0.5 room is either expected to be a study room or in families where per person space is too little, this gets converted into an additional bedroom for kids or a room for the servants.
A little bit of technology and use of renewable sources of energy
We aren't asking for the moon but technology intervention these days won't hit hard. Soon after demonetisation, small shop owners did resort to the use of Paytm, etc. Similarly, if we are talking about Smart Cities and the heavy reliability of efficient use of information and communication technology, the change must set in early. Home automation today comes at a cost and has a range of offerings from intelligent lighting to automatic and controlled locking systems. Yet again there are temperature regulators, phone and internet lines, yard irrigation mechanisms, thermostats, water and gas leak detectors etc. If we are talking about conserving energy, much of these intelligent lighting and energy saving systems should be made available to people at little or no cost.
Solar and green energy use too is being highly advocated but the income of an average Indian may not allow him to embrace such changes. The initial cost of such modifications is high but overtime it is expected to be a profitable deal. However, it is at the initial stages that it irks a prospective user. Therefore, government subsidies and encouragement to real estate developers and stakeholders will go a long way in deciding whether energy saving resources are adopted by a bulk of the Indian population.
Disaster management mechanisms
Natural disasters wreak havoc for human lives and property. While one cannot undo the disasters caused by earthquakes, cyclones and floods, urban planning can help cover the risk. However, not everybody is aware of this.
'Earthquake-resistant homes' became a marketing pitch soon after the disastrous earthquake of Nepal last year which affected many parts of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh as well. Should earthquake-resistant homes come at a cost? These are the safeguards to a better planned housing sector and must be made compulsory in high risk zones. Japan is considered to be a leader in terms of engineering earthquake-proof homes. The building codes are strictly reviewed from time to time and the collapse ratio of a building during a quake is lower than most other countries. In India, that is not the case.
Those looking at building safety should consult structural engineers and get a certificate saying that the building is structurally safe. This should be done at the initial stage right when the location for a new project is being finalised. Much of the onus for such safety falls on the builder since at the initial stage it is just the developer firm at the site. Therefore, a developer is answerable and prospective home buyers must enquire about the health of the structure before he/she plans to buy it. One would wish that these should be free of cost since this is just a very basic necessity- the need to feel safe. However, construction costs could go up and the only way out is government incentives.
Sometimes the most basic of necessities are the costliest. It's about time, the government rethinks its policy.