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Ville à vendre

Christine Auclair


Paul P. Appasamy

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1The period 1985-95 has been a watershed decade in respect of economic policy in India. Liberalisation of various sectors, particularly industry and trade has resulted in the opening up of the Indian economy. Since independence the provision of housing has been a joint effort of the public and private sectors. Public agencies have moved their priorities from middle income groups to low income groups, while private builders and developers have targeted the upper and upper middle class in urban areas. Liberalisation has polarised this situation further. Within metropolitan cities, rapidly escalating costs of urban land have resulted in private housing being affordable only to the upper end of the income distribution. Middle income households have been forced to move to the periphery or to the suburbs where land values and rents are lower. The urban poor have also been excluded and either end up in squatter settlements or in publicly provided housing projects.

2Ms. Christine Auclair traces the evolution of housing policy in India with particular reference to the metropolitan City of Chennai– the fourth largest city in India after Mumbai, Calcutta and Delhi, and the largest city in South India. She discusses the various public housing programmes including the World Bank funded urban development projects in Chennai. The World Bank was instrumental in shifting the focus of housing projects to the urban poor.

3The private initiatives in promoting urban housing, particularly multistoreyed apartments began in the 1980s. Financing through banks and specialised agencies such as the Housing Finance Development Corporation stimulated the private housing market in Chennai and other metropolitan cities. The emerging urban middle class was quick to take advantage of the new opportunities provided by the private sector. Ms. Auclair analyses the sub-markets in Chennai, particularly the private builders and their target groups. While there has been a boom in the construction industry, the urban poor find themselves increasingly excluded from the land and housing markets. In evaluating the ’facilitator’ role that the State has played in recent years, she highlights the problems and complexities of providing housing to a wide variety of income groups. Her case study of Chennai would be of great interest to policy makers, researchers, and others concerned about housing issues in developing countries.


Acting Director, MIDS, Chennai.

© Institut Français de Pondichéry, 1998

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