– By K P Baney
Published in Indian Construction Magazine 
Construction Industry is a nodal Industry. So many industries, at upper linkages (Industries which supply materials as inputs  list separately given), and lower linkages (Materials which go into system when construction is complete- list separately added) depend on construction activity, that one can feel pulse of National economy by watching construction activity. Construction activity also creates jobs at all levels. Construction activity, which is common denominator to all other activities, could easily be considered as barometer of progress for the other linked industries. To help fight recession, to make industries survive, to create more jobs, Govt will have to provide pushing impetus to construction sector so that construction activity increases, as much as possible.
Providing Infrastructure projects, Encouraging Affordable housing, and creating rented housing should be the key areas, where Govt, should concentrate and provide proper thrust by providing subsidies and adopting fitting policies. This will not only help us come out of present recession, it will also meet with huge shortage of dwellings. Having house property gives stability to the family and a sense of belonging. It brings in hygienic living, better atmosphere for children s education; helps reduce slums, and bring better Law and Order. Fighting with recession and providing jobs to masses, should be our main concern.

How to see that Construction industry grows? Taking up water supply and sanitation schemes earnestly, completing National highway projects seriously, Expansion & Modernising of Ports and Air ports, taking up nuclear power units, Restarting shelved project of Linking – rivers, could be major infrastructure projects, which could help pick up construction sector, and other industries, and give boost to employment..

Second area is to create stock of affordable and rented accommodation. Affordable housing should not be mixed with EWS and Slum clearance schemes, which are to be taken up as social responsibility, and therefore expect lots of subsidy from the Govt. Affordable house (for LIG and lower middle class), including rental housing, does not need charity from the Govt., but does need helping hand from Govt. by way of right policy, and lower tax structure. Affordable housing has basically to be at comparatively cheaper cost, but still with reasonably good amenities; the house has to be easy on Maintenance, where the outgoings, including taxes, are reasonable and do not over-burden the owner. If we want to reduce slums, and stay in clean, peaceful and comfortable environment, we must make houses affordable for masses. Need is there to increase housing stock in this segment.

What the Govt can do?

  • Make contract documents simpler and fair to both the parties. We are still using age- old tender documents adopted by British, which are heavily one sided and unfair to the contractor. Considering all taxes, under all laws, be provided in the tender estimates. Absence of providing Escalation clause in tenders makes it more gambling affair, than quoting on technical competency. BAI and CIDC have prepared some fair draft of tender-document. This should be looked into and adopted, with or without necessary modifications, immediately. Fair conditions of contract will reduce delay over runs and reduce effective cost of the projects.
  • Make building bye-laws and rules simpler. Too many restrictions invite corruption. Corruption is the largest enemy and evil of the Country. Due to corruption, full funds do not reach the project. Project costs increase, delays occur. Strict rules are to be framed to curb corruption.
  • In India, many industrial houses have almost monopoly in production of certain items. While they are definitely entitled to reasonable profits, they should not be allowed to bleed the user. Cartels must be banned and made punishable. Some sort of mechanism be put in place, which keeps proper check on these houses to charge reasonable prices. Cement prices, for example, are quite expensive, even compared to the imported prices of neighbouring countries like Pakistan. How it can be?
  • Tax holiday on infrastructure projects, and affordable housing must continue, in the form of section 80 I(A), and 80 I(B), as before. This gives impetus to these sectors, and corelated industries.
  • FSI could be increased in the congested and growing cities, so as to reduce comparative cost of land.
  • Construction costs could be controlled by Developers, by providing practical Specifications, doing away with club houses, swimming pools etc., which only add to unnecessary costs. Specifications and Amenities could be basic, and then expandable by the owner at latter stage. Like, One single tap could be provided in Bath initially; Shower could be added by the owner, at his cost, latter
  • No taxes on Industries which produce Precast items for houses. Precast items are to be extensively adopted, as these could be produced in bulk, and could be erected fast, thereby reducing its cost. Precast items do not need additional finishing like cement plaster, and painting etc, resulting in further saving. Balcony railings, staircases, lintels, door frames, kitchen platforms (with sink) could all be all precast. RCC jallies could replace windows in toilets.
  • Provide liberal and cheaper finance to Construction companies with proven track record. Also advance money to flat purchaser at affordably cheaper rate. Today s rate of interest is just killing for the service class people, which put them off for purchasing their dwellings.
  • Income Tax laws will need revision to allow higher rate of depreciation (say at the rate of 50%) and concession in income tax on the rented housing. Govt should charge only nominal fee/ Stamp Duty and registration charges on these houses.
  • Local authorities should also extend concessions on property tax, water tax, and sanitation tax etc. on affordable and rented housing.

Government must govern. It should be pro-active. Aim should be to collect taxes justly, and spend on the development which is going to be useful to all classes of Society. Jithe Raja Vyapari, tithe Praja Bikhari. Govt. must not act as a Business-man.

UPPER LINKAGES

  • Basic: Steel- Structural / Torsteel / TMT bars Cement, Pozzolona cement, white cement, Lime Stone, Stone aggregate, Sand (Natural), Sand Crushed Chemicals & Plasticizers, Water proofing Chemicals
  • Shuttering & Scaffolding: Steel, timber, Jungle-wood, Plywood, Bamboo, Coir string, Nails, Binding wire,
  • Flooring: Tiles Mosaic and Ceramic, Glazed tiles, Natural stones like Marble, Cuddappa, rough Shahabad, Kota Stone, Granite, Stone, Wood
  • Walls: Bricks, blocks, Siporex, Putty, POP, ACP, Glass, Gypsum Board, Paint, Wall Paper, Thermo- Cole sheets, soft boards, Plywood, Laminated sheets
  • Roofing: Mangalore tiles, G I Sheets, pre-coated sheets, plastic sheets, Grass, Bamboo, AC sheets, Aluminium Sheets, Fabric,
  • Sanitary ware: Commodes, wash hand basins, sinks, Mirrors, Steel / PVC Pipes, GI Pipes, Pipe fittings, Floor traps, Gully traps, man-holes
  • Pipes: Steel, PVC, Copper, CI, GI, Stainless steel, Bath fittings like Mixers, taps, Hume pipes, S W Pipes, Plumbing Nails, Screws,
  • Doors /Windows: Wooden, Steel, Aluminium, PVC, Bamboo, Chatai, Ply wood. Laminates, Glass, Hinges, Aldrops, Tower bolts, Locks, Mosquito netting,
  • Electrical: Cables & Wires, Switches & Sockets, Bulbs & Tubes, Electronic Safety & Security devices, Geysers & Boilers, MCBs, ECBs, Elec. Meters, CCTV

LOWER LINKAGES

  • Furniture: Stainless Steel, Steel, Aluminium, Wooden, Cane, Cupboards, Cots, Dinning Table, Kitchen cabinets,
  • Curtains, Curtain Rods, Upholstery, Table covers, Seat Covers, Mattresses, Bed Sheets, Pillows & Pillow covers, Table Cloth, Napkins, Towels
  • Electrical Gadgets, ACs, Coolers, Refrigerators, Invertors, UPS, Kit-Stoves, Utensils, , Ceiling Fans, Exhaust Fans, Bells, Computer, Stationary, Cooking Gas,
  • House Cleaning items, Buckets, Mugs, Aqua Guard, Pressure Cookers, Candles, Soap, Scent, Perfumes, Telephone. Serving Plates & Dishes, Glasses, Storage Utensils,
  • 2 Wheeler, 4 Wheeler, Cycle, Children Cycle, TV, Radio, Music Gadgets

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