Skip to main content

India's poor "left" in the lurch in Central government's new urban thrust, as experts allege middle class policy bias

By Our Representative
The recent Government of India decision to make its credit-linked subsidy scheme for urban housing more attractive for the middle income groups by offering them a higher carpet area than what hitherto was the case has come under sharp criticism of the country's top urban experts, who say, it would dilute the "core pro-poor character" of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's much publicised urban housing thrust.
Called Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana – Urban (PMAY-U), launched in June 2015 and revised periodically, it was designed to provide interest subsidy for houses offered to different income groups. The scheme was first launched for what are called Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) and Low Income Groups (LIG), but was extended to Middle Income Groups (MIG) on December 31, 2016, post-demonetization.
Finding that things were srill not becoming viable for the private players, who were contracted under public-private partnership mode, MIG housing was further categorized into two -- MIG-I and MIG-II -- for households with annual income between Rs. 6-12 lakh and Rs. 12-18 lakh, respectively. The upper limit of the subsidized loan amount under MIG-I was fixed at Rs 9 lakh with 4% interest subvention, the corresponding figures for MIG-II being Rs. 12 lakh and 3%.
As for the EWS households, with an annual income up to Rs 3 lakh, and LIG households with an annual income between Rs 3 and 6 lakh), they would be getting interest subsidy of 6.5% for loan amounts up to Rs 6 lakh for the maximum period of 20 years, and loans above the stipulated amount would not be subsidized.
To make the scheme further "attractive", again for MIG, last month, in a surprise move, the Cabinet announced increase in the carpet area for the MIG-I category from 90 square metres (sq m) to up to 120 sq m and for the MIG-II category from 110 sq m to 150 sq m.
Attached with the Institute for Human Development, New Delhi, Amitabh Kundu and Arjun Kumar have said, in an effort to woo MIG, Modi government appears to have forgotten what the Technical Group on Urban Housing Shortage, 2012–17 (TG-12) had noted -- that the households from EWS and LIG account for 56.18 per cent and 39.44 per cent, respectively, of the total estimated urban housing shortage of 18.8 million.
"Households with monthly income up to Rs. 5,000 are placed in EWS while those with income between Rs 5,000 and Rs 10,000 constitute the LIG", the scholars said, adding, "EMI amount more than around Rs 1,500 at current prices is not affordable for poor, if the expenditure pattern as given in the National Sample Survey is taken into consideration."
"A loan amount of Rs 3-6 lakh at the subsidized interest rate sanctioned for a period of 15 years would mean an EMI between Rs. 3,000 - 5,000 per month. Thus, repayment of the loan amount with interest, amounting to more than 50% of their earnings, would be a major issue for the poor", they add. experts said.
With MIG apparently becoming a major target of the Modi government, the experts say, "The chances of the targeted intended beneficiaries being missed (both exclusions of intended beneficiaries and inclusion of non-intended beneficiaries) have thus gone up enormously."
This year, said the experts, the budget esallocation for interest subsidy under PMAY-U, at Rs 5,075 crore in 2016-17, has been increased to Rs 6,043 crore in 2017-18, but of this Rs 1,000 crore is proposed for MIG, adding, recent changes seeking to open of a window for middle income housing have "come up due to the lukewarm response of the poor and LIG and low off-take of loans."
While new measures "will spur the house construction activities, attracting private and foreign investments", may have a "multiplier effect on GDP and labour market and benefit the real estate and builder’s lobby and the middle class", the experts complain, "There is a serious risk that the middle-class will corner much of the subsidies offered, with the poor being pushed out, primarily due to the latter’s lack of repayment capacity and failing to meet the documentation and other formal requirements."

Comments

TRENDING

Allow international human rights observers, media to access Kashmir: US lawmakers

Counterview Desk
In a letter to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, two members of the American Congress, Pramila Jayapal and James McGovern, raising "significant concerns" about what they call "humanitarian and human rights crisis in Jammu & Kashmir”, quoting "credible reports" from journalists and advocates on the ground" have said that "the Indian government has detained thousands of people with no recourse, imposed de facto curfews on residents' and cut off internet and telephone access in the region.”

Rescind Gates Foundation award to Modi, demand three Nobel Peace laureates

Counterview Desk
In a major boost to those opposing the award to the Gates Foundation’s proposed to be awarded to Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his Swacch Bharat Abhiyan, three Nobel Peace Prize laureates, Mairead Maguire (1976), Tawakkol Abdel-Salam Karman (2011) and Shirin Ebadi (2003), have in an open letter called upon Milinda and Bill Gates to withdraw their decision, stating Modi is allegedly involved in human rights violations.

Now clampdown on rally, arrest of pro-freedom activists in Pak-occupied Kashmir

Counterview Desk
In a fresh evidence, international human rights organizations are not just confining their attention on the Indian state of Jammu & Kashmir (J&K), whose special status was taken away by the Government of India in early August, leading to an unprecedented clampdown on the region. They have simultaneously begun focusing on the Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK), where the situation is said to be worsening.
Thus, the International Human Rights Council ((IHRC) Hong Kong (HK), a top human rights organisation, said to be working towards to the promotion peace, equality, fundamental rights and social justice “as enunciated in the UN Human Rights Charter and other instruments of human rights”, has noted now a new wave of independence movement has struck PoK.  With offices in US, UK, Switzerland and Hong Kong, and having Kirity Roy and Lenin Raghuvanshi as IHRC office bearers from India, in a statement, it has claimed that on September 7 one of the biggest pro-Independenc…

Gujarat's incomplete canals: Narmada dam filled up, yet benefits 'won't reach' farmers

By Our Representative
Even as the Gujarat government is making all out efforts to fill up the Sardar Sarovar dam on Narmada river up to the full reservoir level (FRL), a senior farmer rights leader has said the huge reservoir, as of today, remains a “mirage for the farmers of Gujarat”.
In a statement, Sagar Rabari of the Khedut Ekta Manch (KEM), has said that though the dam’s reservoir is being filled up, the canal network remains complete. Quoting latest government figures, he says, meanwhile, the command area of the dam has been reduced from 18,45,000 hectares (ha) to 17,92,000 ha.
“According to the website of the Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Ltd, which was last updated on Friday, while the main canal, of 458 km long, has been completed, 144 km of ranch canals out of the proposed length of 2731 km remain incomplete.
Then, as against the targeted 4,569 km distributaries, 4,347 km have been constructed, suggesting work for 222 km is still pending. And of the 15,670 km of minor canal…

US Kashmiri diaspora body: World leaders, UN 'not acting', India enjoys total impunity

Counterview Desk
Ahead of the United Nations General Assembly session, to begin on September 17 in New York, Dr Ghulam Nabi Fai, secretary-general of the World Kashmir Awareness Forum, a non-profit organization based in Ohio, US, claiming to focus on providing information on Kashmir, has regretted that despite "violent" behaviour of Indian authorities in Kashmir, they enjoy "total impunity" across the world.

Ceramic worker dies: 20,000 workers in Thangadh, Gujarat, 'risk' deadly silicosis

Even as the country was busy preparing for the Janmashtami festival on Saturday, Hareshbhai, a 46-year-old ceramic worker from suffering from the fatal lung disease silicosis, passed away. He worked in a ceramic unit in Thangadh in Surendranagar district of Gujarat from 2000 to 2016.
Hareshbhai was diagnosed with the disease by the GCS Medical College, Naroda Road, Ahmedabad in 2014. He was found to be suffering from progressive massive fibrosis. He is left behind by his wife Rekha sister and two sons Deepak (18) and Umesh (12),
The death of Hareshbhai, says Jagdish Patel of the health rights group Peoples Training and Research Centre (PTRC), suggests that silicosis, an occupational disease, can be prevented but not cured, and the Factory Act has sufficient provisions to prevent this.
According to Patel, the pottery industry in the industrial town of Thangadh has evolved for a long time and locals as well as migrant workers are employed here. There are about 180 units in in the to…

Bullet train impact report Japan agency property: Govt of India tells Gujarat NGO

The National High Speed Rail Corporation Limited (NHSRCL) has told Gujarat-based environmental organization, Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti (PSS) that the detailed report of Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA) representatives on their visit to Gujarat and Maharashtra assess the impact of the Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train project on farmers is not its property, but that of JICA.

NHSRCL letter to PSS, signed by activists Rohit Prajapati, Krishnakant and Swati Desai, comes following the latter’s request to it on June 10 for the report. PSS was one of the NGOs that represented JICA on the project, saying, if implemented, it would adversely impact farmers, even as pointing towards the fact that the project itself is unviable and Indian Railways needs to invest, instead, more on upgrading the present railway infrastructure.
Following the NHSRCL reply, PSS has shot a second letter to JICA, insisting that the latter should share a copy of the report, even as providing details of the …

Jharkhand riverine terminal: 485 families 'displaced', lose land, livelihood in Sahibgunj

Counterview Desk
Even as Prime Minister Narendra Modi proposes to inaugurate on Thursday India’s second riverine Multi-Modal terminal (MMT) at Sahibganj in Jharkhand, built at a cost of Rs 290 crore reportedly in a record time of about two years, several civil rights organizations* have said that the government has failed to address the high-profile terminal’s social and environmental concerns.

Karma tribal festival an occasional to campaign for tribal rights: IPMSDL

By Our Representative
The International Indigenous Peoples Movement for Self Determination and Liberation (IPMSDL), in a solidarity statement has suggested that the current Karam festival of Central India -- which seeks to promote sisterhood, friendship, cultural unity, and closer link to nature -- should be the occasion to campaign against alleged efforts to violently drive away forest dwelling communities from their forest homes.
"Millions are threatened to lose lands and livelihood under the implementation of Forest Rights Act (FRA) of 2006", the statement States, adding, "As corporate interests continues to enter tribal territories and extract profit from its natural resources, indigenous people are pushed to further marginalization and discrimination."
Asserting that indigenous movement in India "remains steadfast in keeping their culture, deeply linked to their lands alive by carrying out their heritage and struggles", IPMSDL, even as extending "…

US Air Force expert smells regional security threat following Chandrayaan mission

Counterview Desk
A United States Air Force expert, writing on India’s Chandrayaan -2 mission, has expressed the apprehension that Indian moon probe’s “failure” won’t stop an Asian space race that “threatens regional security.” Affiliated with the US Air Force School of Advanced Air and Space Studies, Wendy Whitman Cobb, who is Professor of Strategy and Security Studies, believes like other space powers, India may be “seeking to improve its technology”, but advances can “also bring greater security concerns.”
Currently, admits Cobb, “These efforts have been primarily civilian and peaceful in nature.” However, India’s turn toward the military uses of space, so much so that lately it has been developing its own military satellites providing services such as remote sensing, tracking and communications “with greater frequency” has begun to “concern” the neighbours.
In her disclosure statement to an article published in the e-journal “The Conversation” Cobb, however, states that whatever…