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Prime Minister's 'affordable' housing policy fails to help Gujarat slum dwellers: Study

By Rajiv Shah* 

A new study on the implementation of one of the major policy initiatives for the urban poor by the Narendra Modi government after it came to power, Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY), has said that in Gujarat, which happens to be the Prime Minister’s home state, has quoted state officials as “confirming” that no progress towards tenure regularization, a key requirement for providing housing to the state’s slum dwellers.
Stating that this particularly true of smaller town, the study, carried out by the non-profit Homes in the City (HIC), which is based in Bhuj, district headquarter of Kutch that saw a devastating earthquake in 2001, says, the failure to provide affordable housing is there despite the fact that there has been “significant demand” in all the 83 out of 153 Gujarat municipalities studied by experts involved in the study.
According to the study, out f a total of 1.41 lakh demands for housing under the Beneficiary Led Construction (BLC) category, 94,232 (66.7%) as of September 2021 came from the slum areas, while rest were from the non-slum areas. Of the four categories allowed under PMAY, BLC was found to be the most attractive. The other three schemes were -- Credit Linked Subsidy Scheme (CLSS), In Situ Slum Rehabilitation (ISSR) and Affordable Housing in Partnership (AHP). All the schemes involved Central and state government subsidies.
The study, titled “PMAY and Housing For All in Small and Medium Size Towns of Gujarat”, examines implementation of PMAY in 1534 slums in 83 municipalities, out of which number of “tenable” slums are 1274 (83%), while the rest are “untenable”. The total number of households in these slums in Gujarat is 2,16,351, out of 90.7% are found to be eligible for benefit under the Government of India scheme.
Those involved in the study included Prof Amita Bhide, School of Habitat Studies, Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), Mumbai; Ravi Sannabhadti, faculty, Planning and Public Policy, CEPT University, Ahmedabad; and Shehnaz Ansari, who is with the advocacy group Human Development and Research Centre (HDRC), Ahmedabad.
Launched in 2015 in order to provide “housing for all” by 2022, PMAY, a supply side intervention, focused on increasing formal housing supply through construction of more houses either by the public or the private sector. The study believes, while a lot of work on housing has been done under PMAY, “most of it has been implemented for the non-slum areas”, not just in Gujarat but across India. It insists, “So far PMAY has failed to meet the needs of slum dwellers.”
Based on the data provided by the Affordable Housing Mission (AHM), as of September 2021, the study states, “None of the planned targets for slums in small and medium size towns was met”, which highlights “the failure of PMAY schemes for small and medium size towns.” Thus, under the BLC component of PMAY “has not been able to provide houses to slum dwellers in small cities due to non-ownership of land with slum dwellers”. Thus, as of September 2021, “only 522 houses were constructed in small and medium size towns” in this category.
None of the planned targets for slums in small and medium size towns was met, which highlights failure of PMAY
The study of Gujarat urban areas suggests that major issues related to accessing PMAY in small towns under the BLC scheme were -- potential beneficiaries in slums dud not hold land rights, and there was inadequate gap funding, and the beneficiaries could not fund the remaining amount by themselves. As for other categories, CLSS, ISSR and AHP, the hurdles included low initiative shown in developing project reports, and unwillingness of local administration for in situ development.
The study says, during the stakeholder consultation small town participants insisted that the scheme for them was “financially unviable”, In fact, the residents appeared unwilling “to move to apartment style housing”. This apart, there was lack of consultation with slum dwellers, and low expertise and low priority in undertaking up housing schemes.
The study finds slum dwellers citing ownership issues in houses built under earlier schemes like the Basic Services to the Urban Poor (BSUP) of the erstwhile Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM). Those who received houses under BSUP “have still not got the proper title to the houses”. Then, residents were not willing to move to a location that was far away from their existing place of stay and work – which was found particularly in Porbandar.
The study believes, the current framework for land rights in Gujarat is also a major hurdle. Thus, “Many of the slums in small towns in Gujarat are built on public lands. This can be government waste land or gauchar (grazing) land in many cases”. It says, “Presently there is no comprehensive law in which land rights can be given”, and the present government resolution (GR) for “is not suited from the point of view of resolving the key issue.”
The study recommends, the Odisha model, with few modifications, could be adopted. The land rights should be awarded individually but after residents form a cooperative society, and the land rights should be “heritable, mortgageable and transferable (after a minimum period)”. This could be come after a “thorough survey of the slums, using extensive ground truthing” and come up with a layout of highly irregular settlements where necessary, it adds.
This apart, the study suggests, land up to 35 sq metres “should be given free of cost”, while beyond that “value as per jantri should be charged.” To regulate this, “a facilitation agency should be involved in the process to make sure that the beneficiaries participate and follow all the instructions and the process which is laid out by the government.” To start with a pilot project “could be conducted in one district and implemented through a GR.”
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*Editor, Counterview

Comments

Maya Valecha said…
Some voluntary organisation working to policies or schemes is needed.
When I worked for @ 4 years each in Baroda and Surat, we could establish a rule that no slum would be demolished without giving house in JNNURM. All these land rights etc are just not required if people really fight.
Continuous rallies and all kinds of pressures were exercised. Sometimes when I think of it, we did crazy things literally.
But all success in both cities.
We don't have enough dedicated people to work like that.
All from who started together from PUCL left in 6 months!

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