The research conducted in 2013 by a team of engineers and architects, headed by Devdas Menon, a Civil Engineering Professor at IIT, has set another milestone in creating affordable housing for Indian middle class families. Considering the looming housing problems of lower income groups in India, IIT Madras last year claimed to have built an extremely affordable housing system. ‘GFRG demo building’ presented by the IIT team, has been considered as one of the most well thought projects put forward by the Indian engineers in the recent past. The project specifically focused to address the aspirations of the lower income groups. Rebutting the ongoing housing scams and difficulties in housing investments, the GFRG Project has given a new thrust to the real estate business in India.
Major advantages of GFRG demo building over other conventional buildings are indeed many. A GFRG building promises extremely fast construction, less built up area, less embodied energy, lower structure cost and weight of the building, unbelievable smooth finishing without any additional plastering, etc. The outcome of this project was that the IIT researchers finally succeeded in constructing a two-bedroom 800 square feet house at an affordable price of 10 lakh INR only.
However, the hard reality of the realty business in India is that, in spite of advanced research programs and low cost construction projects, lower income and middle class families are still finding difficulties in getting quality housing options in urban and semi-urban locations. In fact, there are many people in India who are bearing the burden of paying rent for their rented home and EMI for their prospective house under-construction.
Unfortunately, the residential construction boom in India, which began 2011 onward, primarily focuses on serving people belonging to the higher income groups residing in the high-end Indian cities. As per the 2013 statistics, there was a severe shortage of around 30 million homes, coming from people whose annual income is less than 2 Lakhs INR per month. At present, there is a serious lack of market focus on low cost construction for the lower income people who are finding their housing dream more and more unattainable owing to skyrocketing construction costs.
Many civil experts have opined that to cater to increasing low cost housing demand, construction companies in India still need to conceptualize more polished designing methods to manufacture and supply low cost housing constructions especially in the urban and semi-urban areas. Again, the optimization of technology must not come at any compromise on the quality and durability of the buildings.
At present, the urban population in India is growing by the day and the slum dwellers, falling into Below Poverty Line (BPL), are also expanding at an alarming rate. It is believed that low cost construction will eventually eradicate the current slum scenario from India, especially the one found in and around the metropolitans and megacities of India. Meanwhile, being inspired from the western nations many NGOs and private firms have taken the initiative of low cost yet energy efficient housing projects built at affordable costs to meet the demand of all income level groups in India.