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29th "NRC-related" suicide in Assam, as Nirod Baran Das takes his life by hanging on a fan

By Our Representative
Reporting 29th case of National Register of Citizens (NRC)-driven suicide in Assam, one of India’s human rights campaign sites has said that, on October 20, tragedy struck Kharupetia town in Darrang district of Assam, when a retired school teacher and advocate Nirod Baran Das “took his life by hanging himself to a fan in his home.” The report adds, “The NRC process has so far claimed over two dozen such lives in the past four months alone.”

Housing for all? Maharahstra govt "utilizes" 0.444% of budget in 2017-18, scheme not meant for slum-dwellers: GBGBA

By Our Representative
The Maharashtra government has failed to utilise funds allocated for constructing affordable housing as part of its ambitious plan to curb homelessness from the state. A total of Rs 1,381.95 crore were allocated for the current fiscal year under the Housing For All scheme, out of which 0.444% (Rs 5.001 crore) were spent on housing, while the remaining 99.556% is unspent as on today.
Though the state government has an ambitious plan for constructing 1.9 million houses so as to address the housing shortage in the state, in reality, only 23,000 houses have been constructed till date, as per the latest report by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affair.
These 23,000 houses are, in fact, houses constructed under the old housing schemes like Rajiv Awas Yojana (RAY) and Credit Linked Subsidy Scheme (CLSS), but now have been included under the current Housing For All scheme.
In a statement, the well-known housing organization, Ghar Bachao Ghar Banao Andolan (GBGBA), said, “The BJP government, whether at the centre or in the state, is good at showing dreams, but fails in realising them, especially when poor is going to get benefits. Housing For All looks like a distant dream given the present pace with which housing being constructed.”
According to GBGBA, ironically, even the full utilization of the allocated funds might not be able to address the problem of housing/homelessness. Pointing out that “our analysis of the present housing scheme-‘Housing For All’ or ‘Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY) finds certain loopholes”, it said, “Our analysis of the ‘Housing for All’ suggests that a large chunk of population that is either homeless or not living in dignified housing or slums, will not be able to get the benefits of this scheme.”
Thus, it said, “Two of the four provisions (‘Credit Linked Subsidy’ and ‘Affordable Housing in Partnership’) of ‘Housing For All’ scheme are basically modelled to facilitate purchasing of affordable housing”, adding, “As per the latest information received through Right to Information (RTI), in Mumbai there are around 20 lakh families having an annual income less than Rs. 1 lakh. Under the prevalent rates, no housing under any affordable housing segment can be availed to a family belonging to this income level.”
GBGBA stated, “The third provision of PMAY is ‘in-situ slum rehabilitation’ based on the ‘cut-off-date’ model which means that some of the member of a slum will be held ineligible, hence not will not be getting the benefit of the scheme.”
“Lastly”, it said, “The ‘Subsidy for beneficiary-led individual house construction/enhancement’ is available to only those who own a piece of land. This provision is at least not for slum dwellers who, never owned a piece of land. In a nutshell, the poorest of the poor might not get housing under PMAY.”
GBGBA underlined, “The existing approach to address the housing problem will not work. There is a need for overhauling the housing schemes and policies so as to ensure that poorest of the poor have a protection of minimum and a dignified housing.”
Seeking implementation of the recent recommendations made by the “UN Special Rapporteur on Adequate Housing to the Indian government to formulate a law in order to address the housing problem”, GBGBA said, “A national housing law that aims to address growing inequalities and offers a long-term road map is needed.”
“India has recognized and ratified housing as a basic human right in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948. But in the paucity of a law, the housing rights of the most marginalized section of the society living in informal settlements or slums have violated numerous times across India. Shift from considering housing a commodity to a necessity for every citizen is required”, it added.

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