Salford expertise supports tackling Indian housing crisis

Peel Building

Peel Building

University of Salford academics are taking part in a key construction industry conference in India this week (30 January) covering the provision of low-cost housing which could help to solve the problem of poor quality accommodation and slum dwellings. An estimated 8.2 million households live in slum conditions in India and there is a backlog of around 26.5 million housing units which need to be built.

Professor Mohammed Arif, Professor of Sustainability and Process Management at the University’s School of the Build Environment and International Director for the College of Science and Technology, will be a key speaker at the conference. He has more than 16 years of experience in project management and construction, including international research in the fields of pre-fabricated and low-cost housing.

The University has been collaborating with academics and business people from both countries to examine potential solutions to the problems associated with providing accommodation. The joint UK-Indian work has covered project management, technological developments, social issues and financial support for low-cost and social housing schemes, and public sector involvement.

Mutual learning has provided tangible benefits for both countries, according to Professor Arif, both in terms of tackling the problems associated with an estimated 8.2 million Indian households living in slum dwellings, and in the area of ‘frugal innovation’ where India has developed expertise which could have a real benefit in the west during economic austerity.

“This work has moved from promise to prominence,” said Professor Arif. “The volume of low-cost housing needed makes this an opportunity for development for business and a chance to make a real difference to the quality of life of Indian families.” This ongoing work has also opened the door for more Business to Business (B2B) collaboration between the two countries in order to tackle the problem of low cost housing. There is also the potential for technology transfer and sharing of efficient production techniques. Promoting this B2B interaction is one of the other key impacts of this research. This B2B interaction will promote commerce and will lead to more joint initiatives in this area.

Professor Arif and other Salford academics, along with British business representatives, will be attending the conference: ‘Implementation Challenges & the Way Forward for the Construction and Infrastructure Sector During the 12th Five Year Plan’, in New Delhi to present a session on innovations, research and development, mechanisation and effective resource management. The work is part of the UKIERI (UK Indian Education and Research Initiative) which has included a recent visit of a delegation from India to the UK to study social and low-cost housing, which was hosted by the University of Salford.

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