Meagre funds for housing scheme
A government scheme to fulfil Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s promise of houses for all by 2022 has been allocated Rs 19,500 crore in the budget for the coming year, less than even half the amount required, prompting an expert to call the pledge a “jumla” (rhetoric).
The Pradhan Manti Awas Yojana Grameen (PMAY-G) scheme requires Rs 50,000 crore to meet the target of constructing 70 lakh houses in rural India by the year 2020-21.
“The announcement of the Prime Minister that houses will be provided to all houseless people by 2022 is jumla like several other jumlas of Rs 15 lakh to every household and doubling of farmers’ income by 2022,” economist Jayati Ghosh said.
Ghosh, a professor at Jawaharlal Nehru University, said if the government was sincere about the scheme, it should have set aside adequate funds in the Union budget for 2020-21.
“There is no sincerity in the government for these schemes. The funding is hugely inadequate,” she added.
Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Saturday allocated Rs 19,500 crore for the PMAY-G scheme, a rise of just Rs 500 crore over last year.
Only seven lakh houses had been constructed under the scheme till January 31 in the 2019-20 financial year.
The target the rural development ministry had set for 2019-20 was 51 lakh houses. Another 44 lakh houses are under construction but may not be completed by March 31.
The target for 2020-21 is 70 lakh.
Government officials admitted that the pace of construction has been very slow the past year because of shortage of funds.
The PMAY-G was launched in 2016-17 with the target of providing homeless people 2.95 crore houses by March 2022. The target for the first three years was one crore houses, with the remaining 1.95 crore houses to be built over the next three years.
For the 1.95 crore houses in the second phase, the government will have to spend Rs 1,56,634 crore.
The government had allocated over Rs 20,000 crore for the scheme for the first year (2016-17) when the target was to construct 33 lakh houses. The allocation was Rs 20,616 crore for the year 2018-19.
Anees Thillenkery, convener of the Ekta Parishad, an organisation spearheading a movement in Madhya Pradesh for homestead land and house for every citizen, said a major problem for the government’s housing target was that a sizable number of targeted beneficiaries did not have the land to build a house.
“Many people do not have homestead land. No houses can be constructed unless land is provided. We have been demanding a law to make the provision of homestead land a right of every person. The central government is not doing anything,” he said.