Friday, 30 January 2015

Workshop:Housing for all

Mahila Housing Trust in collaboration with Deutsche Gesellschaftf├╝r Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) Gmbh & Center For Environment Planning & Technology (CEPT) University has conducted a
National level workshop on "Housing for all: Lessons learnt and way forward" on 14th October 2014 at India Habitat Center ,New Delhi.

Objective of the workshop -

Both GIZ and MHT have gained considerable knowledge from the ground on in-situ slum upgrading and augmenting housing supply. It has been observed that undertaking such projects at the city level has its own complexities. These start from collection and management of data, formulation of DPRs, getting this sanctioned to actual implementation. There are added complexities of land issues, finance and private sector participation. MHT and GIZ have organized a one day workshop at Delhi on October 14, 2014 to share learning lessons and contribute to the way forward for providing housing for all. The workshop focused on the experiences of various actors and stakeholders across the country on the aspects of -
  • Role of Information Technology (IT) – from managing data to building houses.
  • Process innovation – empowering the Urban Local bodies.
  • Planning issues – imagining our cities.
  • Way ahead – housing for all

    Inaugural Session-

Ms. Aparna Das from GIZ welcomed all the participants and informed that the current workshop was a follow up to the workshop organized at Ahmedabad with MHT and CEPT University under the Indo-German Environment Partnership.  She also added that the “Inclusive Cities” Programme of the GIZ would be a way forward. Moving forward with the workshop on “Rajiv Awaas Yojana” at Ahmedabad, the current workshop was on the issue of “HOUSING FOR ALL” which the goal of the current Government of India. 

Keynote Address: Renana Jhabvala, Managing Trustee, MHT-

Smt Renana Jhabvala said that she was wondering whether to speak as an economist or as an experienced grassroots person. However the experiences at the grassroots were very powerful. She said that we talk about the urban areas without figures. Eighty percent of the people in urban areas were self employed and about 30 t0 40 percent were poor and have no space in the city. 

Address By: Dr. Regina Dube, Head & Senior Adviser, Sustainable Urban Habitat, GIZ

Dr. Dube said that the GIZ is the technical department of the German Government and is supporting India since last sixty years. In India, GIZ initiated working in the urban areas in 2008. She said that GIZ has been supporting the Indian Government, specially the Ministry of housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation and Ministry of Urban Development on issues of housing, solid waste management, sanitation through institutional capacity building.

The Workshop was divided into 3 sessions-

Session I -Role of Information Technology – from managing data to constructing houses-

Presentation by: Dhruv Bhavsar, Research Associate, CEPT University and Bharti Patel, A.C.E., Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation onIntegrating Information Technology in collecting, analysing and managing information base about the urban poor.

Mr. Dhruv Bhavsar, Research Associate from the CEPT University stated that they had jointly done the slum profiles of Ahmedabad with the Municipal Corporation and The Mahila Housing SEWA Trust (MHT).Ahmedabad had undertaken a data collection exercise in 1976 beyond which there was no data collection about slums. Taking the data from the NSSO as the base, mapping of slums was done on a GIS based platform by CEPT, with the validation of data and the community participation in the data being undertaken by MHT in presence of elected representatives. All the data was then directly linked with Google Earth, which made it easy to share and access. Information on service related issues was very easily available. Based on which a slum atlas was also prepared for the ULB. Some key information like the access to toilet, type of land tenure and building typologies was available from the database. The slums redevelopment strategy of Ahmedabad was being prepared on the basis of the mapping.

Presentation by: Ms. Shirley Ballaney, Environmental Planning Collaborative (EPC)

Shirley Ballaney from EPC presented on several quick methodologies that The EPC had developed using Google base maps to undertake various surveys like the surveys of chawls in Ahmedabad, Mapping of public lands in Ahmedabad. She mentioned that there is no official city map of Ahmedabad available. She mentioned that these quick, easy to use data collection enabled faster implementation. It also enabled some crucial data like categorization of low cost housing, built space per person, public lands in the city. This allowed EPC to get a sense of issues like 48% 0f population could not afford housing in Ahmedabad. More than half of the public land in Ahmedabad was owned by the AMC and the conservative estimates of these lands amounted to approximately 34,000 crores which can be leveraged. She also emphasized that the data and the maps are not included in the developmental plans instead they become only a onetime exercise. 

Presentation by: Mr. S. K. Mahajan, Director RAY, Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board (DUSIB)

 Shri Mahajan started his presentation by giving an overview of the Delhi slum clusters. There are 685 Jhuggi Jhopri (JJ) clusters in Delhi. Of which 95 JJ clusters have been prioritized by the DUSIB for redevelopment. Shri Mahajan emphasized that they had developed an in house team at the DUSIB which collected all the data on the slums and mapped on a GIS based platform. The data is extremely useful to make a tenability analysis of the slums. Based on which the DUSIB had fixed the policy of insitu slum upgradation under PPP model. Further he mentioned that only 25% of the land belongs to DUSIB and the other clusters were on the DDA, Railway lands. He also emphasized the fact that data was not the only issue which hampered the implementation, but the process of getting the approvals was also very lengthy and cumbersome. He suggested that having single window clearances would be effective for fast track implementation. 

The presentations were followed by question –answer sessions to the presenters and an open   Discussion.

Session II -Process innovation – empowering the Urban Local Bodies

Presentation by: Shri Santosh Gandevikar –D.G.M, Sintex Industries Limited on Mass Concrete technology 

Shri Santosh Gandevikar said that building technologies in India could be site based or factory built. The monolithic concrete construction technology was used in building some of the housing under Basic Services for the Urban Poor (BSUP) programme. Technology provides durable, fire-proof and pest-proof, storm-resistant construction which is easy to clean and maintain. He mentioned that the concrete is poured into formwork specially built for it. It is a very fast construction technology which is joint-less. And therefore the quality is maintained. It is completely maintenance free. The uniqueness of the technology was in the strength of the construction, the efficient land usage, simplicity in planning and design and the speed of the construction as well as cost effectiveness. A block of 32 houses could be constructed in a month and 20% time could be saved through Mass construction technology. Also the cost effectiveness of the housing technology was 10% more than the conventional technology. The CEPT University is doing a study on the effects of the technology on work environment and environment in general. Besides this, predetermined standards were already available in The Indian Standard Code for this technology. 

Presentation by: Shri Rahul Navalkar, Director, Morficon Systems on Use of Aluminium prefabricated form work for construction

Shri Navalkarji talked about the aluminium formwork as alternative option for building construction. He mentioned that it could be used for any type of building irrespective of the target group. It has a cooling impact in the hot summer days. The main features of the formwork are that it is very versatile and saves a lot of time. Using the formwork, four storeys could be constructed in 16 days. Because of the aluminium the quality and the durability of the housing units are very good and it could go without repairs for years together. It is extremely durable, has seismic resistance with high tensile strength. The form work can be reused again and again. Local production of the formwork can be undertaken. Houses get more carpet area because the thickness of the concrete is six inches versus a nine inch thick brick.  Centralized planning ensures standardization and involves better utilization of available technologies. It also helps in imparting training to local workforce's which can give them an added skill set thus enhancing their employment opportunity. 

Presentation by: Mukta Naik, Micro home solutions on Community involvement and design innovation in slum redevelopment

Ms. Mukta from Micro Home Solutions presented their innovative community owned design developed in consultation with MHT and the residents of the Sundernagari slum pocket in East Delhi. MHS had adopted the master plan of Delhi, inputs from the community and the RAY guide lines for the preparation of initial building designs. During the interactions with the community they understood that there were a lot of home based workers like shoe repairers, embroidery workers, dairy activities, stitching etc. the community had their apprehensions about relocation as they were using the streets opposite their houses as spaces to work and carry out their daily activities. Based on these interactions, MHS made three designs alternatives which were those of high rise, midrise and low rise apartment buildings. During the consultations, the high rise option was out rightly rejected and the community were ready to move into the mid rise apartments. The main feature of the new design was its modular cluster approach, based on two-level street designs. The two-level street offered the connectivity as well as the neighbourhood interaction space that the community considers essential to the way they live and work. Moreover, the community particularly accepted it because they could easily transport material to their homes and carry finished goods out via strategically located staircases and ramps. Residents were aware that low-income high-rise developments have been unsuccessful in maintaining essential amenities such as elevators. The cluster design ensures light and ventilation in every unit. The scale of development was conducive to current social practices and lifestyle. The modular design was done on a 4m-by-4m grid which gave flexibility and options for unit sizes (18, 32, and 48 square meters) based on family size, capacity to pay and livelihood requirements. The scheme also provides for commercial space, community areas, workshop spaces for those who opt not to work from home in the new development.

The floor was later opened for discussions.

SESSION III-Planning issues : imagining our cities 

Presentation by: Ms. Shirley Ballaney, Environmental Planning Collaborative (EPC)

Ms. Ballaney presented an innovation on how working on the byelaws to make it more pro poor could reduce the costs of construction by almost 33% by taking the case of a site in Ahmedabad. She mentioned that the public sector delivery of housing was very slow and therefore the private sector also needed to get involved in the low cost housing delivery. The three important factors affecting the costs of construction were land construction costs, development control regulations and profits. Some housing sites at Ahmedabad Urban Development Authority area were studied and due to the rigid regulations full FSI was not consumed which added on the cost. She presented an exercise where the byelaws were relaxed for designing a housing layout which was jointly done on a site by MHT and EPC. The presentation showcased how the crucial aspects of “Density, Fire Safety and Quality of Life” were taken care of by the innovativeness in the relaxation. A comparative analysis of the costs was done and merely by the relaxation of the byelaws, the costs of the project were reduced by   33% which meant that a ten lakh rupee low cost house would cost a mere six lakh plus. She also mentioned that the density of the population should be looked at more holistically, based on an entire area rather than only a pocket.

Closing Session -

The closing session had a discussion on the way forward followed by a vote of thanks by Ms. Aparna Das, GIZ.
Some of the high lights of the discussion were:
Cities should emerge with good project plans; only then fast approval of the projects will come through. Currently, only use of a different technology is recognized as innovations. However innovations in design and processes were viewed as compromises. These went against the principles of in situ upgradation and community participation, which the Government is keen to promote. The strategy for housing for all should contain a mixed bag of approaches, versus only a single strategy which is being adopted by the cities.

Vote of Thanks-

The Ms. Aparna Das GIZ has expressed that GIZ is committed to keep working with the Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation in promoting in-situ up gradation of slums with minimum demolition. She said that the focus would be to emerge with process innovations and technologies which could be sustainable for the poor. She has thanked MHT and CEPT University for the fruitful partnership and all the participants for an active participation in the workshop. 

Thursday, 29 January 2015

Smart City Collocution

Ms. Bharati Bhonsale, Program Coordinator of MHT was one of the key note speaker at Smart city collocution organised by SAATH on December 30, 2014 in Ahmedabad. Ms. Bharti presented her views on affordable quality housing, cost efficient physical, social and institutional infrastructure such as adequate & quality water supply and access to Sanitation.

This address by Ms. Bharti was widely appreciated and her ideas got a great round of applause from the attendees.

MHT won the Urban Resilience Competition

Mahila Housing Trust (MHT) has won the Urban Resilience Competition hosted by USAID, UNDP, UNHabitat and UNGlobalPulse.It was held at Asia Urban Futures Workshop in Bangkok.

MHT has won this award for their initiative in Building Capacities of Slum Women to use Global Positioning Systems (GPS) for Democratic Urban Planning System. Dharmishta Chauhan,Strategic advisor at MHT was invited to give a presentation and accept the award at Bangkok,Thailand.

Monday, 26 January 2015

Mahila Housing Trust ( MHT )

Mahila Housing Trust (MHT) is an autonomous organization promoted by Self Employed Women Association (SEWA).It was formed in 1994 with the overall objective of improving the housing and infrastructure conditions of poor women in the informal sector. Within this general framework, MHT facilitates access to services such as shelter finance, legal advice, technical assistance, information on the housing market, and shelter-related income opportunities for poor working women.

MHT believes that all citizens, irrespective of their residential status, have a right of equal access to basic services and that they have a right to be treated uniformly and justfully by the service providers. Towards this, MHT focuses on enhancing civic engagement among citizens particularly slum residents, women and rural poor, through promotion of Community-Based Organizations (CBOs) and grassroot women’s leadership.