Determined efforts needed to bring economy back on track: Vice President Venkaiah Naidu

NEW DELHI: Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu on Wednesday stressed on the need for providing affordable, safe and durable housing to the growing middle-class without compromising on quality.

At the same time, there is a need to ensure aesthetics, the vice president said while virtually inaugurating the Platinum Jubilee Foundation Day celebrations of the Central Building Research Institute (CSIR-CBRI), Roorkee.

The rapid economic growth and increased urbanisation has led to a great demand for housing in cities, making it a daunting task for planners, he said.

“We need to ponder over these questions and the related issues. Today, I would try to look into the issue of buildings along three dimensions: equity, quality and sustainability,” Naidu said.

Emphasising the importance of aesthetics, he said, “When a family lives in a crammed locality with hardly any ventilation or sunlight reaching homes, it naturally affects their wellbeing.”

COVID-19 has shown the need for air circulation and the importance of sunlight, and it is the duty of architects, planners, governments and institutions like the CBRI to ensure these elements in built structures, Naidu noted.

He also suggested that authorities look into the feasibility of making adequate light and air circulation a norm for building plan approval.

The vice president observed that the emotional appeal of a ‘home’ has not changed, even as progress has been made from simple mud-walled huts to sophisticated skyscrapers.

“Thanks to our economic growth, schemes like the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY) and progressive legislations like the RERA which protects home buyers, the dream of owning a home is not just of the few anymore,” he added.

In order to fulfil the responsibility of ‘Housing for All’ in letter and spirit, Naidu called for adopting latest technological advancements such as prefabricated buildings, factory-made housing and precast stone blocks.

Pointing to the current practices that are still largely labour and material intensive, he said this often leads to time and cost overruns.

Institutes like CBRI must lead the way in the latest technological advancements like 3-D printed housing and zero-energy buildings, Naidu observed.

He also said the construction workforce must be well-trained in modern construction techniques, noting the huge employment potential in the sector.

“Unskilled manpower in this sector must become skilled manpower,” Naidu said.

The vice president also highlighted the issue of sustainability in buildings.

Underscoring the need for green buildings, Naidu said 39 per cent of energy-related CO2 emissions in the world are coming from buildings, a major contributor to greenhouse gases.

He called for making green buildings the ‘new normal’ by creating awareness about this concept among the people.

Pointing out that the production of traditional construction materials like brick, wood, cement, steel and sand is energy-intensive, the vice president called for promoting nature-friendly homes by increasing the use of locally available materials or green materials.

Naidu said that ‘Reduce, reuse and recycle’ should be the mantra of civil engineers and they should utilise the by-products of other industries such as fly ash from power plants.

He called for addressing the huge housing shortage in rural areas.

Naidu added that the government has launched the ambitious PMAY (Gramin) for this purpose with an aim to provide a pucca house to all by 2022.

Noting that the country is prone to multiple hazards and calamities, Naidu also highlighted the importance of adopting disaster-resilient designs and construction practices as the new norm in all buildings.

He appreciated the role of CBRI in improving disaster mitigation in buildings, including fire engineering and for its role in constructing five COVID hospitals in Himachal Pradesh in record time.