Budget 2022: Housing for urban, rural poor in focus

Updated on Feb 02, 2022 06:30 AM IST

She announced that eight million houses will be built under the flagship housing scheme PM AwasYojana, both rural and urban

Construction workers work at an under construction commercial building in Kolkata. (AFP)
Construction workers work at an under construction commercial building in Kolkata. (AFP)
By, Hindustan Times, New Delhi

Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s fourth Budget came out with a stronger rural and housing focus, with an allocation of 48,000 crore to build eight million houses for the urban and rural poor, a new Vibrant Village programme to cover border habitats of northern India, a hike in allocation in nearly all rural schemes and a target to improve key sectors in some aspirational districts.

She announced that eight million houses will be built under the flagship housing scheme PM AwasYojana, both rural and urban. The Narendra Modi government had earlier announced that all Indians would be provided pucca houses by 2024. A senior rural development ministry official said, “We will built 5.6 million houses in FY 22-23 from this fund. The rest will go to PMAY Urban.”

MGNREGS funds at 73,000 crore remained the same as in the last Budget but officials were quick to point out that in the demand-driven job scheme, the government provides supplementary budgets to meet any additional requirements.

The Vibrant Village scheme, to be executed by Union home ministry to cover sparsely populated border areas in north India, would see additional funds and merger of existing schemes to create better infrastructure in those areas.

“Border villages with sparse population, limited connectivity and infrastructure often get left out from the development gains. Such villages on the northern border will be covered under the new Vibrant Villages programme,” Sitharaman said, “The activities will include construction of village infrastructure, housing, tourist centres, road connectivity, provisioning of decentralised renewable energy, direct-to-home access for Doordarshan and educational channels, and support for livelihood generation.”

A senior official added that Punjab, Jammu and Kashmir, Ladakh, and Uttarakhand would be the prime beneficiaries of this scheme.

The boost for housing for the poor comes when PM Awas (Rural) needs around 14 million houses to meet its target of housing for all in 2024. The funds and focus would come in handy as construction of houses slowed down in the last financial year during the pandemic. Housing, along with free cooking gas connection (Ujjwala) and free power connection (Saubhagya) schemes, is considered one of the key welfare schemes that have created a base of millions of beneficiaries that political parties tap during elections.

The rural development ministry’s budget increased to 1,35,944 crore from 1,31,519 crore, a hike of 4,500 crore, which would lead to more spending on rural roads, social assistance programmes and housing. But the National Rural Livelihood mission has seen a dip in budgetary allocation. The Shyama Prasad Mukherjee Rurban Mission, too, will get a marginally lower budget.

Sitharaman announced the government’s vision that “all villages and their residents should have the same access to e-services, communication facilities, and digital resources as urban areas and their residents” and said that 95% of 112 districts in the Aspirational Districts Programme have made significant progress in key sectors such as health, nutrition, financial inclusion and basic infrastructure.

The government will now give more focus to such districts. “In 2022-23, the programme will focus on such blocks in those districts,” she said.

Former rural development secretary Jugal Kishore Mohapatra said, “The Budget indicates the government will broadly push the existing programmes but I expected it would substantially enhance the social security programme. MGNREGS has got 73,000 crore but in the coming days, more funds would be allocated as and when required.”

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Tuesday, October 04, 2022
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