Q) “Providing affordable housing to all is a big challenge in India. Government has implemented several schemes in this direction. In this light, discuss how PMAY is different from previous housing schemes. Also suggest measures for effective working of the scheme”
Affordable housing is fundamental to the health and well-being of people and to the smooth functioning of the economy. Against the backdrop of impending large scale urbanization in India over the next few decades, it is important to identify, evaluate the needs of, and address the challenges faced by the largest chunk of urban housing consumers with the most pressing needs.
PMAY is not the first one relating to the housing project implemented by the central government. Similar attempts were made by past governments as well. From Indira Awas Yojana (IAY) launched in 1990 to Rajiv Awas Yojana (RAY) in 2009 and a host of different housing schemes in between this period, attempts were made by successive governments to improve basic services, provide tenure security, upgrade existing infrastructure and create new housing units with a vision of creating a ‘Slum Free India’.
Although similar in vision, the PMAY(U) adopted a much more decentralized system in financing the construction and development of housing. This generated a hope that the PMAY(U) would overcome the challenges of previous schemes with a new way of providing ‘affordable houses.
However, the PMAY faces following challenges
Mismatch between people need and the mission offerings
- A YUVA and IHF report ‘Housing Needs of the Urban Poor in Nagpur‘discovered, ‘there is a glaring gap between people’s aspirations, their capabilities and state imagination of housing provision’. Therefore, there is a mismatch between the people’s needs and what the housing mission has to offer.
High land cost
- In spite of the availability of flexible and low-interest housing loans, people are not coming forward for housing projects due to the high costs of land, particularly in urban areas.
- Ownership of land is a prerequisite for availing two of the four options (Beneficiary led construction (BLC) and Credit Linked Subsidy Scheme (CLSS)), a majority of the urban slum households that do not own land are automatically excluded from availing the benefits under the scheme.
Concern over location
- In the AHP (Affordable Housing in Partnership) component of the scheme, in the bigger metros, it appears that affordable housing projects can only be built on the outskirts of the city, far away from people’s workplaces.
- If location is not taken into account, there will be very few takers for these houses as some of the biggest factors influencing people’s decision to purchase a home are based on travel time to workplace and affordability.
Delivery of the house in time
- Although affordable housing has been given infrastructure status (easing of governmental norms to promote the growth of infrastructural sector) in the National Budget of 2017, which gives housing developers additional benefits to boost their interest in these projects, the delivery of house construction has not moved at a fast pace as expected from these reforms.
- For a common man, the timely delivery of the house still remains a distant dream.
Measures for effective functioning of the scheme
Upgrade existing slums as a financially viable model
- The upgrading of existing slums by providing them with basic amenities and improving physical and social infrastructure such as roads, sewage and drainage systems, parks, waste disposal and management, hospitals, schools, etc. is critical as it would be the most economically viable option to improve the living conditions of over one crore households living in slums.
Encourage and promote the provision of land tenure rights among state governments
- State governments should promote the provision of land tenure rights.
- Most importantly tenure rights should preferably be given in the name of the women in the family to promote women’s empowerment.
Enhance people’s participation and implementation of the 74th Amendment Act
- People’s participation in making an informed choice is pivotal, and under components such as ISSR it should be extended to ascertaining the design and size of the house as well.
Explore alternative options such as social rental housing
- Although the emphasis was on the construction of houses under PMAY(U), other potential housing solutions such as rental housing have not been included.
- In today’s times, with high rates of migration to urban areas for work, the concept of large-scale rental housing equipped with basic amenities can come to the rescue.
Strengthen BLC by upgrading the overall settlement
- Households across the country are demanding support for self-construction and overall upgradation of the settlement.
- A fifth vertical for in-situ upgradation should be detailed outlining BLC with upgradation and provision of basic services such as water supply, sanitation, sewage, various social amenities etc.
Build greater synchronization between Mohua and other central ministries
Monitor qualitative aspects of new housing construction, not just the number of units constructed
Thus, if the Government take adequate measures to overcome challenges for effective implementation of scheme, the scheme would be beneficial and would create a new ways of providing ‘affordable houses’.