Wishing to make the country slum-free, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Saturday made a small build-up towards that goal in this city.
Handing over the keys of 10 of nearly 8,500 rehabilitation flats built under Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) to couples from Colony Number 5, one of Chandigarh's biggest slums, he hoped that the dream became a reality in the capital of Punjab and Haryana first. The PM posed trust in Rajiv Awas Yojana (RAY), union government's housing scheme for the urban poor, to make the mission possible.
The slum dwellers of Colony Number 5 would be rehabilitated in one-room flats at Dhanas village in the Union Territory, said the PM, adding: "Rapid urbanisation is putting pressure on urban centres. By 2017, the slum population will go up to 10.4 crore. Already, it is 9.6 crore."
(Prime Minister Manmohan Singh handing over flat keys to one of the allotee. Rajnish Katyal/HT)
RAY, aimed at checking the mushrooming of slums, is a plan to raise 10-lakh housing units in another four years. Promising to provide people with "ek mutthi asmaan (a fistful of sky)", The PM said his government had approved another housing scheme for the urban poor with private-sector investment. "I hope Chandigarh becomes India's first slum-free city soon," he added.
Since 2005, the union government has approved 15.6-lakh dwellings under the JNNURM.
As per an official survey, there are around 25,000 families that have been identified as living in slums in various places in the city, a spokesman said adding, "The idea of the project is to make Chandigarh slum-free."
These flats will be handed over to the beneficiaries on lease for a period of 20 years, after the completion of the time period, the house will be allotted to them, he said.
The complex would have sewage treatment plant (STP), electricity, drinking water supply, school, police station, dispensary among other things.
The flats have a living room, a bathroom and kitchen and are expected to be inhabited by about 50,000 people.
25,000 units planned for Chandigarh: guv
For making Chandigarh slum-free, the plan was to build 25,000 housing units, Punjab governor and UT administrator Shivraj V Patil share it with the PM, adding: "If need be, we'll build more small units."
Union minister for housing and urban poverty alleviation Girja Vyas appreciated the PM's vision. "After right to education and food security, the poor now can look forward to a roof over their heads," she said.
Soft-spoken PM hardly audible
Considered "soft spoken", Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was hardly audible at the key handover ceremony in Chandigarh, no matter how many buttons the poor sound guys pushed.
Bansal still counts
Former railway minister Pawan Kumar Bansal received his share of applause from Punjab governor Shivraj V Patil and union minister Girija Vyas, putting to rest the speculations that the Congress MP had been sidelined.
To make sure that the Punjab chief minister sat with the PM on stage, the governor vacated his chair quickly when they arrived. In the earlier arrangement, he was to sit next to the PM.