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Wednesday, Nov 13, 2019

Rural housing scheme success hinges on Opposition states this year

The Centre has to count on Congress-ruled Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh as well as West Bengal (ruled by the Trinamool Congress), Tamil Nadu (ruled by the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam), and Odisha to achieve targets set under the scheme.

india Updated: Sep 24, 2019 01:27 IST
Saubhadra Chatterji
Saubhadra Chatterji
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Prime Minister Narendra Modi felicitates beneficiaries of Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana- Gramin (PMAY-G) at Shirdi, Maharashtra.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi felicitates beneficiaries of Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana- Gramin (PMAY-G) at Shirdi, Maharashtra.(File photo: PTI)
         

The Centre’s flagship Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Gramin) depends heavily on key non-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-ruled states to meet its targets for this year -- these states account for around 60% of houses that have to be built in 2019-2020 under the housing scheme for rural poor, government officials said citing government data.

The scheme was expanded in February and the Union government has set itself the target of building 15.5 million houses under the scheme over the next three year to ensure that every poor person in rural areas has a house by the time the country celebrates 75 years of Independence in 2022. PMAY (G) has been among the government’s most popular welfare programmes that are generally believed to have contributed to the BJP’s return to power in this summer’s national election.

The Centre has to count on Congress-ruled Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh as well as West Bengal (ruled by the Trinamool Congress), Tamil Nadu (ruled by the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam), and Odisha (ruled by the Biju Janata Dal) to achieve targets set under the scheme.

The officials cited above said the six big states have been allotted 2.93 million out of 5.054 million (or nearly 60%) houses the government wants to build in the current financial year. They added that West Bengal and Madhya Pradesh have been allotted the highest quotas of 8.3 lakh houses each.

The Centre decides the quotas under the scheme after evaluating the demand and the number of poor people without pukka (concrete or permanent) homes in states.

The officials said Tamil Nadu and Odisha have been allotted quotas of 2 lakh and 5.65 lakh houses respectively. Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh have been given targets of building 3.6 lakh and 1.5 lakh houses.

Among states ruled by the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance-ruled states, Bihar has been given a quota of 8 lakh houses, Jharkhand (3.2 lakh) and Maharashtra (2.9 lakh).

Madhya Pradesh last month surrendered about 75% of its quota, citing financial constraints, dealing a major blow to the scheme. When a state surrenders its quota, it basically means it communicates its inability to meet the target.

Bihar, too, has reduced its quota by 20,000. Two BJP-ruled states, Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh, have conveyed to the Centre that they have cut their targets by 5,000 and 2,000 houses, according to people aware of the development who asked not to be named.

Under the housing scheme, Rs 1.5 lakh is provided for each dwelling unit. The Centre has envisaged the plan, but the states also have to financially contribute to it. The states provide 40% of the money needed, while the Centre pays the remaining 60%. In hilly states like in the Northeast and in Uttarakhand, the Centre provides 90% of funding. The state governments also allot land to the beneficiaries, who are also required to build toilets under the Swachh Bharat (clean India) scheme.

According to data with the Union rural development ministry, states have so far spent Rs 45,000 crore on the scheme.

Union rural development secretary Amarjeet Sinha, who last week briefed Parliament’s Estimates Committee about the rural housing scheme’s progress, said some states are also giving additional money to beneficiaries to buy land. “Maharashtra has started a scheme which gives Rs 50,000 for land purchase while Bihar has started giving Rs 60,000. The states also have to ensure that the houses are not built in embankment areas or on agricultural land,” he said.

Madhya Pradesh’s development commissioner, Gauri Singh, said earlier this month that while the target has been reduced, “the state will work “with similar zeal and enthusiasm as it worked for phase 1 of PMAY.”

Trinamool MP Kalyan Banerjee, also a member of the estimates committee, said that the Centre must also highlight the success of the states in implementing such schemes. “Some people only talk of the Gujarat model. But look at West Bengal. It has performed very well in many rural schemes,” he added.

Former rural development secretary Jugal Kishore Mohapatra maintained that while centre designs a scheme, “it is always the states that execute them. They identify beneficiaries, allots them land, ensure payments, give their shares.”

“If anything goes wrong, it is generally the states that are blamed for tardy implementation,” he added.