President Pratibha Patil’s address to the joint session of Parliament on Thursday will set the agenda for the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government for the coming year.
It will have special emphasis on welfare schemes and strengthening the economy.
The speech is expected to highlight among other important issues the strengthening of the implementation of Indira Awaas Yojana (IAY), a component of the Bharat Nirman programme aimed at providing financial assistance to the rural poor living Below the Poverty Line (BPL) for construction of a house.
Even newly elected Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar in her first address to the House on Wednesday stressed the need for providing shelter to the rural poor.
The 2001 Census had placed the rural housing shortage in India at 1.48 crore and addressing the problem is an important strategy for poverty alleviation in the country.
“The scheme envisaged construction of 60 lakh houses across the country in four years time, starting from 2005-06,” said a
Union Rural Development Ministry official who is not authorised to speak to the media.
Under the IAY, BPL rural households of Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, non- Scheduled Castes and non-Scheduled Tribes, ex-servicemen of armed and paramilitary forces killed in action, physically and mentally challenged persons, freed bonded labourers and minorities are eligible to get assistance.
“While the target set for 2008-09 was 18,23,046 new houses, only 8,78,053 could be constructed during the period,” he said.
Funding of IAY is shared between the Centre and the state in the ratio of 75:25 and in case of union territories, the entire assistance is provided by the central government to District Rural Development Agencies (DRDAs), which then release funds to beneficiaries through gram panchayats.
The financial assistance provided for new construction is Rs 35,000 per unit in plain areas and Rs 38,500 in hilly and difficult areas. The assistance for upgrading an unserviceable house is Rs 15,000 in all areas while the funding for credit-cum-subsidy scheme is also Rs 12,500 per unit.