The Union rural development ministry has raised several concerns over the “drastic slowdown” of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s flagship housing scheme for rural poor, pointing out several factors behind the delay in meeting targets to build houses for the rural poor. It has further recommended an “intense follow up” by states/Union Territories (UTs).
The Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY) is basically an upgraded version of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA)-era Indira Awas Yojna. It was launched with aim of uplifting the rural poor. Not only does the scheme help the rural homeless population get pucca houses, but also works towards generating employment, as up to 90 days of labour under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), 2005, is guaranteed to build a house.
So far the scheme has completed 17.2 million houses since 2014, after Modi came to power. However, this year, the programme has got offhand , which is largely being attributed to the raging coronavirus disease (Covid-19) outbreak. The gap between number of houses sanctioned and those that have been completed was cited as standing at 3.12 million in the second phase of the rural housing programme in 2019-20 by an agenda paper of the ministry for an annual review of its schemes.
Rahul Ranjan Mahiwal, special secretary in Bihar’s rural development department, said the shortfall in meeting the target was because of several factors, including last year’s floods and the Covid-19-induced lockdown that led to shortage of labourers. He said authorities will expedite work and set a target of completing 300,000 units in next three months from October to December. “Last year, the floods in north Bihar disrupted work…Besides, the lockdown (that began in March-end) also disrupted construction activity for several months,” he said.
The Centre has pointed out that Aadhaar seeding of beneficiaries is a pending issue and 63% of the unique identification number has been updated in the scheme’s central database to date. The ministry has directed the states that seeding should be done “on utmost priority”.
The note pointed out “in respect of some states, saturation of eligible beneficiaries from the SC/ST category is one of the reasons behind the slow allocation of houses and their completion. State governments are expected to start the process of allocation of houses to the newly added eligible beneficiaries after their Aadhaar seeding is done.” Further, the states have been warned against any deletion of (Aadhaar) entries.