Friday, March 24, 2017

Housing for all? Maharashtra govt spends 9% of funds in 2016-17; budgeted amount slashed by 14% in 2017-18

By Our Representative
Amidst the Narendra Modi government's Housing for All (HFA) call, Maharashtra government’s budget for housing for the fiscal 2017-18 has been slashed by 14%. A budget analysis by Ghar Bachao Bhar Banao Andolan (GBGBA), a civil society organization working among Mumbai slums, has said that just about 9% of the funds allocated for housing in the outgoing financial year, 2016-17, have been utilized.
The analysis says, following the saffron victory in the Bombay Municipal Corporation (BMC) polls, the low allocation has come about amidst the local authorities in Mumbai having begun to evict the “very slums which were earlier promised basic amenities.”
“The cut in the current housing budget, the underutilisation of the previous fund and the eviction drive only suggest the indifference of the government towards a grave housing problem”, comments GBGBA. “As on March 20, 2017, ten days before the financial year ends, the housing department had spent just about Rs 178.66 crore as against the actual allocation of Rs 2,081.76 crore.”
Pointing out that this is exactly 8.58% of its budgeted funds, the analysis says, so far Rs 187.3 crore has been released for all “the flagship programmes and schemes under housing.”
GBGBA says, “The mechanism set up by the Maharashtra government to solve housing problem caters to the need of the few needy people, while a large chunk of people will be still facing the same problem.”
Pointing out that the Maharashtra draft housing policy has estimated a shortage of 19 lakh housing units, the analysis says, “The government aims to construct these units by the year 2022 in accordance with the Central HFA scheme.”
“However”, it underlines, “the slow peace with which the government is working to complete the aims tells a different story. Not even a single house unit has been built under the Housing for All scheme in period of almost three years.”
The analysis states, “The rules formulated by the Maharashtra government to implement the Central HFA scheme are such that it will provide housing to those who can happily spare Rs 8,000-10,000 per month as EMI for the housing obtained under this scheme.”
Citing its survey in various slum areas of Mumbai, the GBGBA says, “There is a huge population which earn less than 8,000-10,000 per month. These are the slums which are not protected by the government and are not eligible for alternative housing. These slums are now being evicted immediately after BMC elections.”
“A major slum in Char Bunglows called Siddharth Nagar was under threat of eviction, but due to people’s pressure, it has been stopped temporarily”, GBGBA points out, adding, “Had pressure was not built, more than 600 families would have been made homeless. If this had had taken place, 300-odd children would have failed to appear in their annual examinations.”
GBGBA says, “The eviction drive in Mumbai is going on in different places, which mostly goes unreported. It only suggests that the Maharashtra government has realised that it cannot meet the target of 19 lakh housing units by 2022 nor it can cater to each needy household, hence they are trying to get rid of their responsibility by simply evicting people.”

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