Affordable housing programme picks up speed
:  Initially, political detractors tried to belittle the scope and range of the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY). But under Union Minister of State for Housing and Urban Affairs Hardeep Singh Puri what sounded as an impossible project programme is…

:  Initially, political detractors tried to belittle the scope and range of the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY). But under Union Minister of State for Housing and Urban Affairs Hardeep Singh Puri what sounded as an impossible project programme is taking wings.

As the programme begins to unfold and the projects gain speed, critics have a hard time to find fault with the programme. The ministry is sanctioning 300,000 to 500,000 affordable houses per month under the PMAY. Obviously it is a big number.

“The government is committed to providing 12 million houses in urban areas by 2022 as part of its home-for-all campaign,” Puri said. This capacity building is imperative as the urban population is expected to rise from the present 30 per cent to an estimated 50 per cent by 2030.

The ministry has also come out with eight models to promote private sector participation in the affordable housing sector.

Puri said India’s urban infrastructure is under “extreme strain”, and therefore the focus is on   bringing holistic transformation in the country’s infrastructure development.

“I was able to get cabinet approval for a new urban affordable housing fund and a provisioning of Rs 600 billion for the four-year period,” he said.

The ministry has also come out with eight models to promote private sector participation in the affordable housing sector. Six of these are based on leveraging government land and two are based on private land ownership.

The cost of land can be as high as 40 per cent to 80 per cent of the house being provided. Both the central and state governments are also providing outright subsidies, and the typical cost of a home is about Rs 650,000.

“PMAY is getting high traction. There can no more generous scheme for social transformation like this,” he said.

“In order to achieve the new India, the Indian state must be strengthened to deliver the goods and services required. You cannot deliver the goods and services if the state is enfeebled.” He also laid emphasis on cooperative federalism for the effective execution of various flagship schemes aimed at planned urbanisation.

The Minister said that though India was one of the most successful examples of post-colonial reconstruction, it has several issues to address. “Millions of our people still suffer in poverty, we must still overcome deep-rooted social prejudices and satisfy the demand for shelter, food, clothing and opportunity for the rapidly growing population,” he said.

The government plans to achieve 100 per cent open defecation-free India and 100 per cent solid waste management in the country by the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi on Oct 2, 2019.

Even Gandhi, in 1916, a year before his Champaran movement that heralded our freedom struggle, had called for a cleanliness campaign before striving for political freedom, said the minister. He stressed the need for a change in mindset among the people to achieve a “transformed India”.

“Building toilets and meeting the physical targets is the easier part but it will also require behavioural change,” he said and added that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been successful in transforming the attitude towards toilets, which was a taboo till recently.

“The PM has created a Jan Andolan (mass movement) where governments, corporates, civil society and public have all got on to the campaign,” he said.

Even the Smart Cities campaign is not just about infrastructure but about bringing a change in the mindset, he said. “The India we seek is where the public consciousness itself has been transformed, where there is housing for all, dignified existence for every citizen and protection from exploitative practices,” said Puri.

(ends)

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