Indian Government aimed at housing for all by 2022? Will we get there? What are the challenges to be overcome?

In today’s time, even after coming a long way, the paradox lies where India is known to be a developing country, there exists more than half of the total population who  do not enjoy proper standard of living. Half of India’s population is poor and poverty stricken. People are devoid of basic necessities, i.e. housing facilities, basic meals per day, clothes, etc. People don’t have roofs above their heads.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the occasion of Ambedkar Jayanti said,”We have a dream for 2022. The poorest of poor should have a house of his own. And that house should be equipped with electricity, water and other facilities. There should be hospitals and schools in the neighbourhood.” But will this dream come true??

The scheme, Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojna – Housing For All, has four provisions. The first provision is to provide house for slum dwellers through slum rehabilitation schemes to be carried out by private developers. Second, there is an interest rate subsidy for a home loan for the weaker sections, with an interest rate of 6.5% for up to 6 lakhs. Thirdly, 35% of the housing in a particular project will be reserved for theeconomically weaker sections of the society, and each beneficiary will get Rs. 1.5 lakhs as subsidy. And fourth, the central government offers a subsidy for a beneficiary-led individual housing constructions.But all these schemes cater to one section of the society that has certain income level, but it overlooks vast number of people in the bigger cities. In Mumbai, for example 60% of the residents live in informal housing.

Effective implementation of the Mission and Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana is dependent, among other factors, on the States and urban local bodies evolving a effective policy framework for  the Economically Weaker Section (EWS) and Lower Income Group (LIG) housing, eliminating the need for multiple approvals and long time period involved in obtaining them, reducing the cost of capital, easy availability of land and its optimal usage. The challenge of the Mission is to create a governance climate that would trigger multiple solutions to these issues.

The role of the State in providing affordable housing in a rapidly growing urban India, has shrunk over the past few decades. The housing units constructed under various urban housing schemes of the previous Governments have addressed a mere fraction of the requirement of India’s urban population. Our cities are increasingly being characterized by urban decay,  slums, bad or non-existent sewage and drainage system. In such a context, the announcement of the Mission as well as Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana, with its ambitious targets has triggered a process of intense State involvement in the process of urban housing, planning and infrastructure.

India needs a law that recognizes the right toproper housing as a basic human right.Such a law should ensure protection of shelter to the neediest person to make sure he/she lives a dignified life. Absense of such legal provisions will continue to pose the constant threat of eviction of people living in informal settlements.Boldly promising houses witout putting in policies will mean that housing for all can never get fulfilled, putting our notion of true development in a jeopardy.

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