By Accommodation Times News Service
The government is likely to expand the reach of the 30-year old rural housing scheme by re-launching it as a national mission with a target to build 3.2 crore “pucca” houses for the poor over the next eight years.
The move is in line with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision of housing with water, electricity and toilets for all Indians by 2022.
The rural development ministry has floated a discussion paper that proposes to give a new identity to its flagship programme, Indira Awaas Yojana, by launching it as National Gramin Awaas Mission or Gram.
According to the paper, Gram will have an annual target of 25lakh houses and fund requirement of Rs 27,300crore per year. The key proposals placed for stakeholder consultation include doubling the per unit assistance to Rs 150,000 in plains and a little more in hilly or difficult areas with toilet being an integral part of the house and enhancing the area of each unit to 30 square meters from 20 sqm.
“This would have significant cost implication but is inevitable if the problem of housing in rural areas is to be addressed,” the ministry said in the discussion paper. As of now, the government gives a grant of Rs 70,000 per unit for construction of new houses in plain areas and Rs 75,000 for hilly and difficult areas.
Though construction of toilets has been mandatory since April 2013, barely 38 per cent houses reported construction of toilets in the last fiscal because of insufficient funds and lack of coordination while provision for water and electricity, through convergence, is still optional.
The rural government set to re-launch rural housing scheme ministry has proposed to set up Gram in the form of an autonomous registered society to implement and monitor the scheme at the national level, while at the state level, it could be monitored by empowered project approval and management committees with members from related ministries to ensure convergence. This will also help in mobilizing additional resources for the scheme.
“Institutional finances can be leveraged through existing institutions like HUDCO and NHB. Options for bilateral/multilateral funding could also be explored,” the paper said, adding that the mission being a separate entity, it should be possible to mobilize resources upfront to be repaid on an annuity model using the future stream of allocation for rural housing.
In an address to Parliament, Modi had said that the foremost priority of his government would be to uplift the poor and to ensure that nobody is without a house with water, electricity and toilet by 2022, when the country celebrates its 75th year of Independence.
Indira Awaas Yojana, which was launched in 1985, has benefited 3.25crore rural households. About Rs 1 lakh crore have so far been spent on the scheme. The target for the current year is 25.19lakh houses with an allocation of Rs 16,000crore. According to the rural development ministry estimates, 5.4crore households are still to be covered under the rural housing scheme.