Over 2 lakh govt houses for urban poor unoccupied

Over 2 lakh govt houses for urban poor unoccupied

By NAVTAN KUMAR | NEW DELHI | 28 May, 2016

Over 2.3 lakh houses built under different government housing schemes for the urban poor in the past 10 years, mostly under the UPA regime, are unoccupied.

According to Ministry of Urban Development data, 1,032,443 houses sanctioned under different schemes since 2005 have been completed, but 238,448 houses are still unoccupied, as these have not been allocated to the beneficiaries, mainly because of state government indifference. Interestingly, Delhi has reported the maximum vacancy, while West Bengal the least.

Starting 2005, the Ministry of Urban Development has been implementing housing schemes for the urban poor. The Jawaharlal Nehru National Renewal Mission (JNNURM) was launched in 2005. It was initially planned for seven years, but it has now been extended up to March 2017. Similarly, the Rajiv Awas Yojana (RAY) was started in 2011, but was discontinued last year.

The Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana-Housing for All (PMAY-HFA-Urban) scheme for extending Central assistance to states/union territories for providing houses and related civic amenities to the urban poor, including slum dwellers, was launched by the Narendra Modi government in June 2015.

Most of the houses, about 10 lakh, have been built under the JNNURM scheme, while only 20,954 houses are completed under the RAY scheme. The PMAY scheme is relatively new and only 710 houses have been completed till April this year. All these schemes provide Central assistance to state governments/union territories to build houses and related civic amenities for the urban poor.

According to figures, out of the 10 lakh houses, 70% were built in West Bengal, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Uttar Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh. The maximum number of houses were built in West Bengal, followed by Maharashtra, Gujarat and Tamil Nadu.

Government figures say that Rs 21,481 crore has been released to state governments so far under the three schemes for the construction of houses. The average expenditure per house comes to Rs 2.08 lakh. Surprisingly, the average expenditure per house was different in different states. For example, in Uttar Pradesh, it was Rs 2.59 lakh per house, while in Tamil Nadu it was Rs 1.34 lakh per house. In Delhi, according to the figures, 96% such houses are lying vacant, which is the highest. Though the highest number of houses was built in West Bengal, only 0.8% are lying vacant there.

The issue was raised by R. Dhruva Narayana in the Lok Sabha recently. Replying to his query, Urban Development Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu said the construction and allotment of houses under these schemes is the responsibility of the concerned state governments. According to him, there was reluctance among slum dwellers/beneficiaries to shift in cases of relocation projects. There was also a lack of infrastructure and livelihood sources, which acted as a deterrent for the beneficiaries.

The minister said that the government has reviewed the issue in the meetings of Central Sanctioning and Monitoring Committee (CSMC).

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