How has PMAY-‘Housing for all’ overhauled the Indira Awaas Yojana(IAY)scheme?

The most prominent flagship scheme of Modi led BJP government which has helped it gain popularity in the rural, as well as the urban area, is Pradhan Mantri Awaas Yojana which was first introduced on April 1, 2016. This scheme was not conceptualized by the current government but is a major improvisation of Indira Awaas Yojana which was launched by Rajeev Gandhi in 1984 for the Below Poverty line villages and actually started implementation in 1994. 

The PMAY: ‘Housing for All’ scheme has an urban segment as well as a rural segment to it and it has a target to achieve housing for 1 crore families living in kutcha/dilapidated houses or help them get a home as in the case of the urban segment by 2022. To execute the scheme an entire overhaul was required of the IAY scheme which called for a detailed study of the loopholes so as to identify how it could be better.

Comptroller Auditor General (CAG) prepared a report in 2014 with the aim to help the Ministry of rural development (MoRD)  to come up with a well informed and well-planned scheme for the residents of rural as well as urban areas in the country. The major flaws that were identified in the execution of the scheme were an improper selection of the beneficiaries which were at times not even under the BPL or in the list approved by the Gram Sabha, or double allocation of the houses to the same beneficiary. There was a shortage of funds and more number of houses seemed to have been allocated in some cases. In some scenarios the funds didn’t get deposited into the beneficiaries’ accounts and got sent to the block level. There were cases of non-completion of houses and lack of disaster-proof technology and poor quality construction. The State government also failed at prescribing inspection methods for the already constructed houses.These drawbacks formed the background for PMAY scheme which targeted on getting rid of them in order to make it efficient and implementable.

 During the Union budget 2019-20 earlier this month, Union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman addressed the cabinet regarding the PMAY scheme and indicated that the time for construction for houses has reduced by half. The construction which earlier took around 314 days in 2015-16 for construction has now reduced to 114 days in 2017-18.“With the use of technology and platforms such as the DBT (direct benefit transfer), the average number of days for completion of a house has reduced from 314 days in 2015-16 to 114 days in 2017-18,” she said.

A total of 1.54 crore houses were completed under the PMAY-G scheme, out of which 72 lakh houses were initiated under IAY scheme. From 2019-20 to 2021-22, another 1.95 crore houses are targeted to be built.

The overhaul of IAY scheme could be explained via the steps taken by the present government in order to fulfill the Housing for All mission. To begin with, as the CAG report pointed towards lack of transparency in selection of beneficiaries , poor quality of houses constructed under the scheme also the fact that designs lacked diversity to suit different geographical requirements.

There was no technical supervision or inspection carried out either. Hence, MoRD then decided to address each issue flagged by CAG by bringing in a multitude of reforms, including convergence with other schemes. PMAY scheme involves geo-tagging of the assets in order to identify the beneficiary,also converging and making electronic payment compulsory in order to ensure minimum corruption. The unit assistance under PMAY-G was increased from Rs 70,000 to Rs 1.20 lakh in the plains and from Rs 75,000 to Rs 1.30 lakh in hilly states. The beneficiaries can also avail loan upto 70,000 apart from the unit assistance.

The beneficiary selection had to be more careful with the help of Socio Economic Caste Census.The first caste census was conducted in India in 1881. In January 2017, Central Government accepted recommendations to use Socio-Economic Caste Census, instead of poverty line, as the main instrument for identification of beneficiaries and transferring of funds for social schemes in rural areas.It identifies a demand of nearly 10 crore households that are deprived of basic living conditions out of which 1.54 crore are targeted under the PMAY scheme.Moreover, a ‘permanent wait list was drawn up so states have a ready-list of households to be covered under the scheme in the coming years.The list is shared with the Gram Sabha for its approval and then it is open for objections and improvisation.Also, for every beneficiary, a picture of her or his existing kutcha house has to be uploaded and geo-tagged by an official, who will then be responsible for any incorrect selection or misrepresentation.The possibility of real time tracking of the construction of the unit to avoid delay is done through AwaasSoft where one has to enter the registered no. of the beneficiary and the progress can be maintained in order to release the funds via DBT after different stages of construction are complete.Special attention was paid to design, quality and suitability of constructions – with around 130 housing typologies brought for specific geographical and climatic conditions.Houses in flood prone areas, therefore, have to be constructed on stilts and with slanting roofs. All designs have been vetted by the Central Building Research Institute.

P.M. Modi in his recent independence speech mentioned that houses are not just four walls but it’s a social environment. The convergence of MGNREGA,Swachh bharat mission,Ujjwala Yojana,Jal Shakti Abhiyan are working towards providing,electricity,drinking water,toilet and employment that make the livability better. Minimum size of a house was increased from 20 square meters to 25 square meters, with a dedicated area for hygienic cooking.The idea of issuing the house in the name of a female member of the household is a small but a significant step towards equality.Meanwhile, of the total sanctions made so far, around 52 per cent were made to households belonging to the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe communities which would not have been possible without Social economic and caste census that helps in identifying 46,73,034 categories of caste, sub-caste, synonyms, different surnames, gotras in the caste and clan names.Further a social audit has to be conducted in order to identify how widespread the awareness is of the scheme and the Panchayats are to conduct these audits in the rural areas.

Under PMAY-G, around 32 lakh houses were constructed in 2016-17, 44 lakh in 2017-18 and around 46 lakh in 2018-19. Overall, 92.6 lakh houses were built between 2017-19.Before the IAY scheme was revised in 2016, only around 10.5 lakh houses were built in 2012-13, another 10.5 lakh in 2013-14, 11.9 lakh in 2014-15 and 18.2 lakh in 2015-16.Under PMAY-U, launched by PM Modi in 2015, a little over 81 lakh houses with an investment of about Rs 4.83 lakh crore have been sanctioned so far. Of this, construction of just a little over half – about 47 lakh houses – has begun so far. Over 26 lakh houses have been completed, of which around 24 lakh houses have been delivered.This difference is because the issues related to land ownership where a lot of the beneficiaries get excluded, like the slum dwellers since the land that they reside on is not their own.Less than one fourth of landless beneficiaries have been provided land for constructing houses under the scheme.This creates a gap in the implementation and needs working upon. The construction quality of the houses need to be verified because it is too soon to tell as it has been completed recently. There are also state-wise variation in implementation of schemes. According to a ministry note, as on June this year, a little over 7 lakh houses were delayed. These were those that had not been completed even after 12 months from the date of release of the first installment of funds. In this respect, states like Bihar, Odisha, Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Jharkhand, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, West Bengal and Assam were found to be defaulters.

Gaps in sanction of houses versus target constructions were also observed in seven states, including Bihar, Andhra Pradesh, Assam and Tamil Nadu.The synergy in all the schemes together still has a long way to go, as there is a lack of toilets,areas that are located on a part of hilly terrain have no electricity and no access to drinking water .These households on terrains still rely on natural river bodies for water which at times gives rise to water borne diseases. The practice of corruption in Panchayats still exists, for example the ‘cut money’ phenomenon in West Bengal where the government officials take money from the funds allocated for beneficiary schemes.

The scheme still has a long way to go and requires integration at different tiers as well as laterally between different flagship programmes to make the Indian dream of pukka house a reality by 2022.

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