South Asia

India's Tata group to launch 'world's cheapest homes'

In this May 24, 2011 photograph, Parvin Yeyyada works with electric wiring as Boommi Gowda looks on during the installation of solar power in her house in Nada
Local NGOs provide solar panels to some rural homes. Tata says panels are an optional extra in their models.

India's Tata group says it will launch cheap housing that can be built within a week for 500 euros, according to Indian media reports.

A spokesman for Tata, which in 2009 launched the world's cheapest car, the Nano, said the pre-fabricated houses would help the rural poor buy a home.

Prototypes are already being tested with a view to launch by next year, the PTI news agency said.

Indian authorities say millions of homes are needed in rural areas.

The company is in discussion with state governments, the agency said.

"It is [a] quick house built in seven days if you have a patch of land. Basic model of 20 sq metres, with flat roof will cost around 500 euros (32,000 rupees; £440)," Sumitesh Das, Tata Steel's head of global research is quoted as saying by the Press Trust of India news agency.

The company is also creating plans for slightly larger and more expensive houses, with facilities such as solar panels, according to the Times of India newspaper.

The company says it is in discussion with state governments and village councils, but plans are at an early stage and it is unclear if the supply chain for building materials for the houses are in place or if the relevant authorities will find the models suitable.