18 mn new rural houses in next 3 yrs on NDA agenda
The government has earmarked a total cost of ~2.6 lakh crore to build these houses, out of which Centre will provide ~1.8 lakh crore and the rest will come from states.Updated: May 27, 2019 21:51 IST
The National Democratic Alliance government wants to construct 18 million additional rural houses — fitted with connections for electricity and cooking gas — in the next three years to further boost the delivery of its key welfare schemes, according to senior officials familiar with the matter.
The popularity of the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojna (PMAY), a modified version of the United Progressive Alliance’s Indira Awas Yojna, has prompted the Centre to set a target of constructing 6 million houses annually for the next three years at a higher pace than the current rate of construction.
The government has earmarked a total cost of ~2.6 lakh crore to build these houses, out of which Centre will provide ~1.8 lakh crore and the rest will come from states. Beneficiaries are provided ~1.6 lakh to construct a house and a toilet as per the scheme’s provisions. The construction of a toilet is mandatary.
In the 2019 elections, the BJP tried to reach out to recipients of the Centre’s social welfare schemes after it rolled out programmes to give free houses, free gas connections, easy bank credits, scholarships, and power connections to an estimated 220 million poor people. Among the different schemes, the PM Awas Yojna, the Ujjwala gas cylinders, and the Saubhagya power connections were seen as having more impact because they serve individual beneficiaries and help remove social imbalance.
“The houses would be added with electricity connections under the Centre’s Saubhagya scheme and the cooking gas connection under the Ujjwala scheme. And, wherever possible, drinking water will also be provided to the new houses,” said a senior government functionary.
He added that, for the first time, the government will go beyond its poverty register—The Socio Economic and Caste Census (SECC) 2011—to enrol beneficiaries. In some states, the waiting list of beneficiaries have been exhausted. The SECC data shows the economic standards of Indian households, identifying the deprived section of the society. It has been the key identification method for social programme beneficiaries while Aadhaar is used to check misuse of funds.
The government may now allow families that missed being included in the earlier master list of beneficiaries by narrow margins. Individuals can also apply to get the subsidy meant for the poor, and the government will scrutinise their application, the functionary quoted above said.
“SECC had identified 4.03 crore families having up to 2 kuccha rooms with kuccha roof and kuccha wall. The list was sent to Gram Sabhas across the states and they validated 2.53 crore potential beneficiaries in 2016. The Housing scheme started November 20 2016,” said a second senior officer.
While the government wants to hasten the process — from the current 4.5 million houses per year to 6 million annually — it has not been able to complete its target of building 10 million housesduring the first term of the Modi government.
A rural development ministry official said that the work had started on 9.4 million houses but about 8.4 million finished before the government’s term ended. In some states, such as Kerala and Andhra Pradesh, the permanent wait list of beneficiaries had got exhausted, while Bihar failed to fulfil its quota.
“Bihar constructed 5.5 lakh houses as against the target of 9 lakhs,” said the rural ministry official.
Achirangshu Acharya, an economist with Viswabharati University, said: “The three key schemes of Prime Minister Narendra Modi — Swachh Bharat, Ujjwala and PM Awas Scheme — are immensely beneficial for rural India to build toilets and houses and get cooking gas connections. And what is perhaps more important is that in all three schemes, the government has actually delivered.”
First Published: May 27, 2019 21:51 IST