Only 41% houses ‘livable’

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The Indian household is, not surprisingly, shrinking. Data from Census 2011 shows that the proportion of households with one or two married couples has risen over the last few years, while the proportion of households in which three or more married couples lived together has declined.

India now has 24.7 crore households and 24.5 crore residential or partly residential houses, leaving a gap of 0.2 crore between the available housing stock and the number of households. This gap, says the Registrar General’s office, is reducing. However, housing experts say that the housing gap should also include the number of cramped and damaged houses, and could be much larger.

The census data itself characterizes 5.3% of all houses as ‘dilapidated’ and another 41.5% as ‘livable’, leaving only a little over half in what it categorises as “good”. Even in urban areas, the proportion of “good” houses is just a little over two-thirds.

Simultaneously, 10% of houses lie vacant, but this includes houses used for residential and non-residential purposes. As much as 22% of houses in Goa alone are vacant, a figure that suggests holiday destinations with seasonal peaks and troughs may have a role to play in the large number of vacant houses.

The median Indian household has between 4 and 5 members. However more than 30% of households have over 6 members. Despite this relatively large size of the average Indian household, twothirds of India lives in one or two-room houses.

In both rural and urban India, houses are increasingly made of concrete, or, as in 16% of cases, with tin and asbestos roofs. Close to two-thirds of rural Indian houses still have mud floors and less than one in every five houses has a concrete roof.

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