New Delhi: Government on Friday said that it favoured a "vertical growth" of cities instead of urban sprawl, given the scarcity of land, and would encourage a relaxed floor-area-ratio regime.
"Vertical growth would be facilitated due to scarcity of land. Urban sprawl occupies more land in cities," Urban Development Minister S Jaipal Reddy said. He, however, wanted all civic facilities to be put in place before such a growth in cities like Delhi.
"We are ready for vertical growth except in the heritage zones like the Lutyen`s Bungalow Zone. The regime of relaxed FAR (Floor-Area-Ratio) will be encouraged," he said.
A higher FAR --limit imposed on the ratio of the total floor area of the building to the size of the land-- will allow more storeys to be built in the houses.
Speaking at the national conference on `Indian real estate` organised by the Assocham, he quoted from a report of the UN Habitat to point out that by 2050, one billion people of India will live in cities.
"Urbanisation is not only inevitable but also desirable," the minister said but added that urban development has been a subject of "benign neglect" over the years as the issue falls in the domain of the state governments.
Referring to Delhi, where land is with the central government and not the state government, the minister said that his ambition was to see the development of National Capital Region Area as an "integrated mega regional city".
He said Metro was being taken to Gurgaon and Noida and will be extended to other cities of UP and Haryana. "But Metro alone cannot solve the transportation needs. The idea is to have common ticket for travellers in NCR. Also to have one transport authority for the region," he said.
Reddy said that there were "difficulties" in getting cooperation from state governments involved in implementation of schemes.
Reddy referred to JNNURM as the major initiative of the government in urban reforms and said that already schemes worth Rs one lakh crore have been sanctioned. Hinting that the funds have been exhausted, the minister hoped that more funds would be made available in the 12th plan period.
On land acquisition for developmental and housing projects, the minister noted that along with the ministry, the state governments "should become facilitators" and they should have a clear vision on acquiring land for projects as farmers protest whenever land is acquired.
Referring to the real estate sector, Reddy said there should be minimum regulation and efforts should be made to eliminate fly by night operators and encourage entrepreneurs in the field.
He said that the ministry has "taken up the issue of imposition of service tax on the real estate sector with the Finance Minister". The minister said the real estate sector in India was not in the pink of health at this moment and urged for a review on service tax.
On a question about conversion from leasehold to freehold in Delhi, the Urban Development minister said that the government has been encouraging this.