Making India slum-free in the next five years is an “unrealistic” goal, an expert committee formed by the Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation ministry has said.
According to census 2001 figures, India is home to 61.8 million slum dwellers living mostly amidst inhuman conditions.
Addressing the Parliament on June 4, 2009, President Pratibha Patil had announced that her government plans to make slum-free India in five years through a new scheme called Rajiv Awas Yojana (RAY).
A year has gone since the announcement but the scheme has not taken off as yet.
The eight-member group led by Deepak Parekh, chairman, HDFC Limited, was formed in February to review the draft guidelines of the UPA government’s slum upgradation and rehabilitation scheme.
The Parekh committee, which submitted its report in April, has said that a five-year period is unrealistic. It has recommended a commitment of 20 years for the project.
“This would be more pragmatic and at the same time, would take cognisance of the government’s overall visions on slums,” the report states.
The ministry has accepted the group’s recommendation and incorporated them while finalising the guidelines. “We sent the revised scheme to the PMO two weeks back,” said a ministry official.
A budget of Rs 1,270 crore has been allocated for RAY for 2010-2011, which has proposed a multi-pronged approach such as giving property rights to slum dwellers.
The group has also suggested that all the existing schemes for urban housing and slum upgradation should be dovetailed. “RAY should not be run as an independent mission,” it says.
It also wants different strategies to tackle the components of RAY, which includes in-situ slum upgradation, rehabilitation, and creation of new housing. “Every city has to have a variety of approaches to housing the urban poor... Clearly, a one-size-fits-all concept cannot work,” the report says.