Growing housing demand is increasing, as there is already a shortage of 12 million houses in the country and it is further increasing at an average of 0.2 million houses annually. And, after the latest vagaries of weather in the shape of flood disasters across the country that have resulted in deterioration of thousands of houses and livelihood infrastructure like livestock, crops and land, it is expected the need of sheltering would further increase intensively. As according to the recent report of NDMA on this year calamitous flood nearly 30 million shelters have been destroyed or washed away across Pakistan. This housing crisis for victims of Pakistan Flood 2022 is really a serious challenge today.
Housing Crisis in Pakistan
In reality, the government seems incapable to handle the situation independently at present. Providing relief, food, camps and safety of lives are top most priorities, however permanent sheltering and housing isn’t in its plan because of less of resources, funds and destroyed communications, no government can manage shelters to such a massive housing infrastructure speedily and effectively. So, it is better to make public-private partnership with recognized builders and developers associations to complete the task.
However, the construction sector is really in a state of inertia these days. In reality, because of growing inflation, new taxations and valuations and specially rise in land prices, builders and developers have stopped construction even on their under-construction projects. In spite, builders’ community have asked several times from government to provide land to them for affordable housing in order to fulfill the housing gap in the country. Their suggestion should be valued by government. Yet, the question is from where the land come?
Acquisition of Land
Former Prime Minister Imran Khan launched the cadastral mapping during his tenure to ensure transparency in transactions and eliminate land grabbing. After the completion of the first phase of cadastral mapping in November 2021 it was revealed by him that the total value of encroached State land was estimated at about Rs5.59 trillion. The former premier shared the survey on Twitter himself, according to which the value of encroached land in three major cities – Islamabad, Karachi and Lahore — stood at Rs2.63 trillion, excluding a value of encroached forest land which was around Rs1.86 trillion.
The data of that cadastral mapping can greatly help government to solve the problem of availability or acquisition of land. With this recovered land, the government can engage builders’ communities in partnership after a transparent and strict prequalification process. The crisis of shortage of housing for unsheltered strata of society and flood-affected families whose houses have been ruined this year can be very much solved.
It is, however, important for Pakistan to get housing right, because strong land and housing systems are significant to the country’s development trajectory. Improved housing quality and sustainable abodes are associated with human capital indicators, including less disease, better education outcomes, and lower fertility rates. Besides housing construction and real estate are important sectors to revive the ailing economy. As when the wheel of construction industry moves it also runs 70 plus allied industries of building materials and services, having constructive implications on the overall health of the national economy.