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Housing for all: Realistic mission or distant dream?

Saturday, June 30, 2018

The Central government’s Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana’ also known as ‘Housing for all’ has a highly ambitious deadline of 2022, and has been making news constantly. Anjua Chavan explores the distance covered so far on the path as well as the challenges

A traditional list of basic needs for a human being consists of food, clothing and shelter. And as per the Constitution of India, the government should strive for a welfare state guided by Directive principles of state policies (DPSPs) mentioned in part IV, where it authorises the state to secure a social order for the promotion of the welfare of people (article 38). Thus, in accordance of these provisions, government of India strives to reduce the inequalities in society and bring about an inclusive environment where every person has food to fill his/ her hunger, roof over head and henceforth.

And to correlate to these principles of maintaining the welfare state order, to provide a place to live for each citizen and reduce disparities in society, government of India has launched ‘Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana’ which we commonly know as ‘Housing for all’ with its highly ambitious deadline of 2022.

‘Housing for All by 2022’ aimed for urban areas have following components or options for States or Union Territories and Cities:-
a) Slum rehabilitation of Slum Dwellers with participation of private developers using land as a resource.
b) Promotion of affordable housing for weaker section through credit linked subsidy.
c) Affordable housing in partnership with Public & Private sectors.
d) Subsidy for beneficiary-led individual house construction or enhancement.

Central government grant of Rs 1 lakh per house, on an average, will be available under the slum rehabilitation programme. A State Government would have flexibility in deploying this slum rehabilitation grant to any slum rehabilitation project taken for development using land as a resource for providing houses to slum dwellers.

Under the Credit Linked Interest Subsidy component, interest subsidy of 6.5 percent on housing loans availed upto tenure of 15 years will be provided to EWS/LIG categories, wherein the subsidy pay-out on NPV basis would be about Rs. 2.3 lakh per house for both the categories. Central assistance at the rate of Rs.1.5 lakh per house for EWS category will be provided under the Affordable Housing in Partnership and Beneficiary-led individual house construction or enhancement.

Schemes and sub missions
State Government or their para status like Housing Boards can take up project of affordable housing to avail the Central Government grant. Now, all these components except the credit linked subsidy component (which is a central sector scheme) will be implemented as centrally sponsored scheme. (A little explanation here, central sector scheme are those which are funded 100% by union government and implemented by union government’s machinery while in centrally sponsored schemes a certain percentages of funding is borne by the state)

It also has a technology sub mission, this mission would be set up to facilitate adoption of modern, innovative and green technologies and building material for faster and quality construction of houses. The Technology Sub-Mission will also work on the following aspects:

i)    Design & Planning
ii)    Innovative technologies & materials
iii)    Green buildings using natural resources
iv)    Earthquake and other disaster resistant technologies and designs.

The Maha challenge
Now, considering specific case of Maharashtra state, it is very essential for state government to expedite the implementation of this scheme given the number of slums in metropolitan cities like Mumbai. There are some assuring steps taken by state government towards attaining this target, like the state government has proposed an amendment to the Maharashtra Slum Areas (Improvement, Clearance And Redevelopment) Act, 1971, to include illegal occupants in the schemes and to expedite slum redevelopment, the survey of individual slum pockets done etc. and specifically for city like Mumbai a separate cell is being opened to deal with “rehab” cases at the SRA office located at Bandra where competent officers have been designated to deal with the dwellers’ applications is note worthy. But, the budget allocation this year of state government (2017-18), which saw 14% cut in housing budget marks a big setback, plus no infrastructure status given to real estate too will create hurdles in completing the deadline.

According to some experts, the government is not even taking the basic steps essential for completing the deadline, with many loopholes in surveying the slums, identifying the beneficiaries, getting authorisation from the required officials and henceforth. Various hurdles remain in implementing this dream of roof over each head other than lax attitude of government, like unavailability of urban land, financial constraints of low income groups, intermediate rehab of families during construction, limited financing options for developers and the list can go on.

The road ahead
The acceleration of implementation of this scheme can be achieved through various small but major steps like the one taken by central government of giving infrastructure status to ‘affordable housing’, long-term infrastructure bonds given CRR ( Cash Reserve Ratio) exemption, housing loans classified as priority sector lending.

Other steps like reducing the red tapism, which is quite prevalent in real estate must be reduced so that the approval from required authorities is speeded. Proper surveying and then implementing the rehab facilities as soon as possible, understanding the need and psychological aspects of slum dwellers and not just making this scheme as one of the beneficiary oriented scheme of central government will go a long way in achieving the target.

And thus, it can be hoped that with coming of 2022, the dream of ‘Pasaydan’ as explained by Saint Dnyaneshwar where everyone will get what one wants (jo je vaanchil to te laabho), with government playing the role of ‘vishwatmak’ can grant a place of his/her to live to each urban dwellers with economic scarcity will be a reality and not just a dream anymore.

(Anjua Chavan is a B.Tech civil engineer with a certified World Bank course in sustainable urban land use planning)

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