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Government of India Launches Global Housing Technology Challenge to Seek Global Solutions for Affordable Housing

Under the Housing for All Scheme, India aims to provide 20 million affordable houses to its urban poor by 2022 using resource-efficient and sustainable technologies

New Delhi: To make the construction of affordable houses in India cost-effective, timely and innovative, Union Minister of Housing and Urban Affairs, India, Hardeep Singh Puri launched the Global Housing Technology Challenge - India (GHTC-India) on 14 January 2019 in New Delhi. The initiative aims to fast-track the construction of affordable housing and meet the target of constructing 20 million houses by 2022.

Amitabh Kant, CEO, NITI Aayog, Durga Shankar Mishra, Secretary, Housing & Urban Affairs, Amrit Abhijat, Joint Secretary & Mission Director, Housing For All, OP Agarwal, CEO, WRI India, Angeliki Rigos, MIT Energy Initiative, Tata Center for Technology and Design, along with senior officials from the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs and various stakeholders in the construction industry, were present at the launch event.

The Ministry launched the GHTC-India website, where potential applicants from the construction technology industry from across to globe can register to apply. Through the challenge, GHTC-India envisions to source emerging, disaster-resilient, environment friendly, cost-effective and speedy construction technologies from all over the world and identify those that would be suitable for adoption in India. Selected technologies will have the opportunity to directly work with the Ministry and state governments to help India meet its targets.

On this occasion WRI India signed an MoU to work as the primary knowledge partner for GHTC-India. WRI India has been the primary knowledge provider since the inception of the challenge and will also manage the accelerator program for potential technologies in India.

Minister Puri called for a paradigm shift in technology transition using large-scale construction as an opportunity to get the best available construction technologies to India from across the globe. He added, “I believe this whole process of GHTC-India is a well-conceptualised and designed programme to bring out the most innovative, simple, effective and appropriate solution for making housing available and affordable to the common man”.

GHTC-India seeks to demonstrate and deliver ready to live in houses in a short time, with lower costs and higher quality construction in a sustainable manner. It also seeks to promote technologies that will foster an environment of research and development in the country. The challenge will encourage participation from across the affordable urban housing and construction sectors, such as technology providers, researchers, start-ups, developers, academia, public sector agencies, and civil society organizations. Pointing out that the conventional system of housing construction is time consuming as well as resource intensive, Hardeep Singh Puri emphasised that there is a need to look for new emerging, disaster-resilient, environment friendly, cost effective and speedy construction technologies. “The shift in technology transition will also address the challenges of large-scale housing construction in minimum time and cost with optimum use of resources and environment friendly practices”, he added.

Amitabh Kant, CEO of NITI Aayog said, “the challenge for India is to create in next 5 decades 2-and-a-half Americas.” He added. “By 2050, according to latest McKenzie study, you will have 700 million Indians getting in to process of urbanisation in India”. However, the slow speed of construction and high interest rates offer major challenges in accommodating the people shifting to cities. The housing construction period must come down to 4-5 months using the best technologies from across the world.

Addressing the audience Dr. OP Agarwal, CEO, WRI India said, "India has 16 percent of the world’s population but only 2 percent of the world's land mass. The country must manage its limited pool of resources judiciously. With GHTC-India, WRI India hopes to see modern technologies playing a key role in bringing quality affordable housing for the country's urban poor."

To ensure a robust process, the ministry conducted a series of consultations with State/Union Territory governments, IITs, technology providers and other relevant stakeholders to identify broad reasons for slow and limited adoption of innovative and alternative construction technologies for affordable housing in India. Typically, conventional construction systems, such as the use of brick and mortar, are slow-paced, energy intensive, dependent on natural resources, and have a large carbon footprint. GHTC-India will enable a technology transition from conventional to new technologies through lighthouse projects, expositions, and other outreach methods that will mainstream its use. This will also contribute to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 1, 6, 8, 11 and will help build sustainable and liveable cities. Such a technology transition aligns well with the vision of New India 2022 which will bring India at par with the advanced economies of the world and their rigorous standards in the construction sector.

The Expo in March, 2019 will provide a platform to all stakeholders for exchange of knowledge and business. GHTC-India calls out to all proven and demonstrable technology providers from across the globe to participate in the expo and contribute to bring a change in the perception and revolutionize the affordable housing construction sector in the country.

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