With just two days left for the Karnataka assembly elections, party manifestos for Bengaluru city are being heavily scrutinised by citizens in the capital city.
Several key issues such as lake rejuvenation, garbage disposal, improving of city roads and infrastructure and strengthening BBMP's functioning are addressed in the party manifestos. However, one key concern that has remained absent from the BJP, Congress and JD(S)'s election manifestos is the issue of rent in urban Bengaluru.
Bengaluru is one of the few cities in the country that has not been introduced to rent regulation. With house owners charging 10 or 11 months rent in advance from new tenants, the city has a huge roadblock when it comes to affordable housing.
According to a lawyer and activist Vinay Sreenivas, the rents in urban Bengaluru are so steep that even 1 BHK houses in city slums charge about Rs 3,500 as rent.
Blore is one of the few cities to have 10 months rent as advance. Rents are so steep that even in slums a 1BHK costs atleast 3500rs. @cpimlliberation is the only party this #KarnatakaElections2018 to PPP promise to regulate rent https://t.co/tgNvgulQswâ€” vinaysreenivasa à²µà²¿à²¨à²¯ (@vinaysreeni) May 8, 2018
However, the issue has been conspicuously absent from the election manifestos of the major parties. When it comes to housing, the Bharatiya Janata Party's election manifesto for Bengaluru city only mentions policies for regulating tarrifs and charges between domestic households and apartments.
"Policies will be formed to ensure that there will be no discrimination in tariffs and charges for water, power and solid waste management between domestic households and apartments," the manifesto stated. The BJP also spoke about affordable housing for the poor.
The Congress in its plans for Bengaluru urban region promises to launch affordable housing for the poor and also promises safe neighbourhoods.
The JD(S) in its election manifesto fails to address any concerns related to urban housing.
According to urban expert Ashwin Mahesh, Bengaluru's rent issue has to do with the lack of supply of rental housing units.
"The BBMP and BDA approves thousands of housing units every year. Out of this 20 to 30 percent should be for rental housing. Currently, we are relying on houses for rent let out by individual houses. This is the main source of supply and this is why these house owners are able to charge any amount of advance as security deposit that they want. Instead, the BBMP should approve housing units specifically for rental housing. For instance, is a housing complex of 100 flats have been approved out of this 30 flats should be approved for letting out as rent and not for sale. This will boost the supply and regulate the market,"