The NDA government under Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched a flagship programme to provide all the urban poor people “a pucca house with water connection, toilet facility, 24x7 electricity supply and access". In pursuit of this, the union government launched the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojna for housing in urban areas. Under this programme, houses will be provided to all the poor families in these areas by 2022 in a phased manner. A similar programme has also been made for the rural poor. At that time, there had been a shortage of 20 million houses. Out of those, 18 million had been for slum dwellers and two million was non-slum dwellers. There were four heads in this programme. A family has to choose only one of these four heads. These are 1) slum rehabilitation of the slum-dwellers with the participation of private developers with the land as resource, 2) promotion of the houses to the weaker sections through credit-linked subsidies, 3) affordable housing in private and public partnership, and 4) subsidy for beneficiary-led individual houses construction and enhancement (Kundu and Kumar, EPW, January 30, 2017).
The second point mentioned above, that is, credit-linked subsidy is implemented through primary lending authorities. But the other three are centrally sponsored schemes implemented through primary lending institutions. The credit linked subsidies will directly be credited to the beneficiary. The central assistance provided to each household is highest, Rs. 2.2 lakh, in the case of credit-linked subsidy scheme. In the case of others schemes assistance is lower.
A huge shift of priorities
The earlier schemes were mainly targeted towards making houses for the poor section of the economy. But a sudden announcement shifted the target. Kundu and Kumar call this shift “misplaced priorities”. They mention that on December 31, 2016, the Prime Minister had announced an interest rate subversion of 4% and 3% for loans upto Rs. 9 lakh and 12 lakh under the credit-linked subsidy scheme for housing. This was done after demonetisation. In addition to this, the Cabinet also introduced a middle income group (MIG) scheme of housing. The MIG was divided into two categories, that is, the MIG-1 (annual income of households from Rs. 6-12 lakh) and MIG-2 (annual income of household from Rs. 12 lakh- 18 lakh).
The main focus of the issue, that is, to support poor people to make their small houses with the help of the government finance has been diverted. But the priorities have been shifted to help build homes for MIG households. This will not help the poor, distress migrant, slum dwellers, abs lower income group to live in the urban areas. In this respect Kumar and Karmakar point out that government and other organizations have a role to play so that “house for all” programme comes true. They also mentioned that enhancement of the income slab of the economically weaker section and MIG would also take away the priority. As a result the off-take of housing loans of the poor is not at all satisfactory. There have been other difficulties. In many cases poor and low income groups are not able to repay loans. To maintain the formalities, that is, to apply properly, fill in the requisite forms, etc., poor and marginalized are in difficulty. Hence the purpose of the programme is being defeated.
Housing for the poor in the rural sector
Hosing in the rural sector is not at all satisfactory. In many cases there has been no house construction. Media reports say that only 4.05% of the over 20 lakh houses sanctioned for nine states under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana-Grameen (PMAY-G) in 2018 have been completed so far. The report has been done on the basis of the data of the Ministry of Rural Development. If one notices the performance of different states it will be revealing to him/her. Only 82,143 of the total 20, 23, 884 houses were completed in Chhattisgarh, Haryana, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, and West Bengal. Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, and Chhattisgarh were the worst performers. Despite a modest 10-house target, Haryana failed to construct even a single one. Uttar Pradesh also drew a blank when it came to the construction of 89,426 houses. Only 0.05 per % (146) of the sanctioned 2, 53, 549 houses was completed in Chhattisgarh.
Why was this?
One of the officers in the department has said, “one of the main reasons for the project lagging in these states is the non-cooperation and lackadaisical attitude of the state governments”. The ministry reportedly said that they would review the status shortly and take corrective measures.
It is also reported that the ministry has taken steps to provide funds to the states but in many places, there was a lack of construction infrastructure. In some other places, it was very difficult for raw materials to be taken. Some of its other schemes like the Sadak Yojana are enabling it to solve the problem but the pace of the execution is not up to the mark.
Therefore, it is obvious that the housing for the poor and marginalised has not achieved the desired level of growth.