World Habitat Day

 

World Habitat Day is celebrated annually on the first Monday of October. The event focuses on the state of human settlements and on the basic right of all to adequate shelter. It also aims to remind people that they are responsible for the habitat of future generations. This year, it will be observed on October 5 and the theme for World Habitat Day 2020 is 'Housing For All- A Better Urban Future'.

In 1985, the United Nations General Assembly declared that the first Monday in October every year would be celebrated as the World Habitat Day . World Habitat Day was first celebrated in 1986 with the theme “Shelter is My Right”. World Habitat Day in this year looks at the impact of the pandemic on housing in urban areas as it becomes difficult to pay the rents for many people in lock down situation.

World Habitat Day is celebrated in several countries such as India, China, Poland, Mexico, Uganda, Angola and the United States. A number of activities across the globe are organized to examine and investigate the problems of rapid urbanization and its impact on the environment and human poverty. These include award ceremonies, including the “Habitat Scroll of Honour” award, which is considered one of the most prestigious human settlements award in the world. A new theme is selected every year for this day celebration as decided by the United Nations. This selection is based on ongoing issues based on the topic of habitat. The aim of the selection of the themes is to focus on UN-Habitat’s mission to promote sustainable development policies that ensure adequate and appropriate shelter for all in the world. These themes stringently encourage the UN-Habitat’s focal areas, which are as follows:

• Secure and healthy living environment for all, especially for children
• Adequate and sustainable transport and energy
• Establishment of greenery in urban areas, including replanting of trees
• Pure and safe drinking water as well as sanitation
• Fresh and unpolluted air for breathing
• Enough jobs for people
• Improvement in urban planning and slum promotion
• Better waste management by recycling of waste material

 

 

Indian Scenario:

Affordable, safe and adequate housing for the urban poor has been the Indian government's focus. The Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs on World Habitat Day organised a webinar to discuss several issues linked with housing in urban India.  


Challenges: In a country of India’s size, diversity, and population, it is a staggering challenge to implement an ambitious urban agenda.

·         Lack of Basic Amenities: There is a shortage of Drinking Water, Sanitation, Hygiene and Housing Condition, especially in slum areas.

·         Public Health Infrastructure: Despite the huge growth in urban population density during the last two decades, there has been no commensurate improvement in the healthcare infrastructure.

·         High Level of Pollution: The growing rate of air pollution due to vehicular traffic and huge construction and demolitions waste increase morbidity amongst the people living the cities.

·         The large-scale migration from urban areas to the rural areas in the time of Covid-19 pandemic was a major challenge in India.

 

Measures:

·         Major flagship Missions such as Swachh Bharat Mission-UrbanPradhan Mantri Awas Yojana-Urban, the Smart Cities Mission, the AMRUT Mission were in implementation mode in India well before the SDGs were adopted by the other Member States.

·         Housing: There is a huge focus on the use of new and environmentally safe construction technologies and techniques like global housing technology challenge (GHTC).

·         GHTC aims to fast-track the construction of affordable housing and meet the target of constructing 1.2 crore houses by 2022.

·         GHTC focuses on identifying and mainstreaming proven demonstrable technologies for lighthouse projects and spotting potential future technologies for incubation and acceleration support through ASHA (Affordable Sustainable Housing Accelerators).

·         Urban Poor: The PM SVANidhi scheme targeting the street vendors who were affected by the lockdown that was imposed.

·         National urban policy framework 2018 seeks to rebuild Indian cities around clusters of human capital, instead of considering them simply as an agglomeration of land use.

Way Forward

§  Creation of a Database of Migrant Workers: Recognition and identification of migrants is the first step towards a more enhanced framework to provide basic amenities.

§  Addressing Challenges: The central and state governments need to continue their efforts to address the informality of the Indian economy, the rural-urban divide, the uneven growth within states and between regions in the country, and the social and economic inequalities associated with the poorest and vulnerable.

§  Unorganized Worker Index Number Cards by the Labor Ministry would also help in formalization of the workforce.

§  Focusing on Public Health Infrastructure: Smart cities project does well by focusing on creation of hard infrastructure for urban renewal.

 

Indian Govt. had extended an interest subsidy scheme of 2017 till March 2021 to tackle Covid-19 crisis which would help the middle class families in search of affordable housing. The extension would provide a boost of ₹ 70,000 crore to the housing and construction sectors amid the pandemic-related economic crisis.

 

https://www.un.org/

https://urbanoctober.unhabitat.org/

http://sdg.iisd.org/

https://www.uclg.org/

https://www.awarenessdays.com/

https://www.drishtiias.com/

https://www.jagranjosh.com/

https://www.ndtv.com/