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regular-article-logo Thursday, 20 June 2024

Deadline cloud on Prime Minister Narendra Modi's 'housing for all' scheme

In 2016, the Union government had announced its target to provide 'housing for all' by March 2022

Basant Kumar Mohanty New Delhi Published 24.01.24, 06:00 AM
Narendra Modi

Narendra Modi File Photo

For 50-year-old Abakasa Behera, a Dalit from a village in Odisha’s Puri district, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “housing for all” slogan has no meaning.

The daily wage worker lives below the poverty line and stays in one room at Kapileswarpur village with his three children, wife and mother. He said his name
was on the waiting list of beneficiaries under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY) till last year but has been dropped now.

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“My father Sagar Behera was a toddy tapper and could barely feed us. Throughout his life, he tried for housing support. He died last month in this ramshackle house,” Behera said.

Now Behera can get a house only if the Modi government asks the states to identify new families for the PMAY scheme.

Lalatendu Mohanty, a former sarpanch of the village, said a three-member team of officials comprising the panchayat executive officer, the gram rozgar sevak and a nodal official from the block decide who will be included on the beneficiary list.

“I do not know why Behera has not got PMAY support. There are many undeserving people getting the benefit while several genuine families are waiting,” Mohanty said.

Behera’s condition has raised the possibility of the Modi government failing to ensure housing for all by March this year.

In 2016, the Union government had announced its target to provide "housing for all" by March 2022. Based on the data of the Socio Economic Caste Census (SECC), the government set the target to provide housing support to 2.95-crore households under Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana-Gramin (PMAY-G). Under the scheme, Rs 1.2 lakh each is offered to beneficiary households in plain areas and Rs 1.3 lakh in hilly areas.

The state governments run their own housing schemes and have constructed nearly one crore houses out of the 2.95-crore target. The Centre hopes to complete the rest by March this year.

In 2018, the state governments conducted an Awaas Plus survey and identified 3.57 crore additional households that needed housing support. However, the ministry of rural development (MoRD) felt the figure was exaggerated and asked the states to verify it. After scrutiny, the Awaas Plus list was revised to 2.8 crore. Of these, the MoRD sanctioned 91 lakh houses. However, there is no clarity on the 1.9 crore houses identified under Awaas Plus and accepted by the Centre as waitlisted beneficiaries.

Anees Thillenkery, secretary of the Ekta Parishad, a civil society organisation spearheading a movement for a legally entitled right to homestead land for the landless, said "housing for all" could not be a deadline-driven programme as new beneficiaries would always be there.

“It is not correct if the government sticks to the 2.95-crore target. With this target, housing for all cannot be achieved. Those families selected under Awaas Plus should be provided support. Also, many more homeless families would have emerged in the last five years. A fresh survey should be done to identify new families too,” he said.

A source said that the MoRD had apprised the Prime Minister’s Office of the waitlisted families under Awaas Plus and the other homeless families that have emerged in the last five years.

“Apart from the Awaas Plus list, there could be another three crore homeless families in the last five years. The PMO is yet to take a decision,” the source said.

An email has been sent to MoRD secretary Shailesh Kumar Singh to understand his perspectives on the fate of Awaas Plus and the unidentified households for support. His response is awaited.

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