Rajiv Awas Yojana to begin in 250 Cities
States Want Liberal Financial Norms given the Fund Constraints of States / Urban Local Bodies
A one day conference on Rajiv Awas Yojana (RAY) with the State Ministers of Housing, Urban Development, Municipal Administration and Local Self Government was organised by the Union Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation (HUPA) here today. The conference was inaugurated by Kumari Selja, Minister of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation and Minister of Culture.
RAY envisages a ‘Slum-free India’, where every slum dweller and urban poor will have access to basic civic and social services and decent shelter. It will bring existing slums within the formal system and enable them to avail the same level of basic amenities as the rest of the town; redressing the failures of the formal system that lie behind the creation of slums; and tackling the shortages of urban land and housing that keeps shelter out of reach of the urban poor.
Speaking at the conference Kumari Selja pointed out that RAY has been designed with a “vision of creating a Slum- Free India – an India comprising of inclusive and equitable cities, where every citizen has access to the basic civic and social services and decent shelter.”
Bringing in the comparison between the number of people staying in the urban and rural areas in India the Minister said that the urban population of India will double itself over the next two decades and around 31.16% of the total population will stay in the urban areas. She said, “Rajiv Awas Yojana has the potential to radically transform the urban landscape of India and the living conditions of the urban poor.”
To address the growing needs of urbanisation, Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) was launched in 2005. She added, “This mission made massive capital outlays for both city infrastructures as well as for integrated slum development and provision of basic services. Under the components of integrated slum housing and provision of basic services, my Ministry is supporting construction of about 16 lakh houses across the country at a cost of Rs 40,000 Crores and the feedback and response from the States and the experience from JNNURM have been important inputs into the design of RAY.”
As in JNNURM, the central assistance is conditional to reforms by the states. The reforms required here are directly linked to the objectives of the scheme, and necessary for the scheme to be successful. These reforms include the enactment of law and the assignment of property rights, as also reforms to policy to ease the land and affordable housing shortages, due to which we see this rapid proliferation of slums.
She further added, “The first set of reforms are related to legal empowerment of the poor, with the bedrock being the commitment and willingness of the State to assign property rights to Slum Dwellers through a legislation. The other reforms in this category are the other pro-poor reforms of JNNURM. These are, earmarking of 25% of the municipal budget into a non-lapsable fund for the urban poor and the earmarking of 20-25% of developed land for EWS and LIG housing.” She requested the states to address the reforms holistically by proper planning, institutional monitoring and adequately incentivising the private sector.
The minister assured her colleagues from the states that RAY would be executed as a “partnership between communities, urban local bodies, state governments and the Government of India”. She also added that the government will be establishing a new policy instrument called ‘Credit Risk Guarantee Fund’ to work in tandem with RAY. “This fund is expected to catalyse upto Rs. 20,000 crores of credit for housing in the coming years”, she added.
The scheme is expected to begin in 250 cities which have an estimated 32.10 million people living in slums. They will benefit by way of property rights and access to decent shelter, basic amenities and a dignified life. The inclusive city growth process will lead to enhancement of productivity at the bottom of the pyramid and will sustain the contribution of cities to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
Central Government will bear 50% of the costs of slum redevelopment. To encourage creation of affordable housing stock, the existing schemes of Affordable Housing in Partnership and Interest Subsidy Scheme for Housing the Urban Poor have been dovetailed into RAY. To encourage private sector participation in slum redevelopment, Central Government assistance can be used by the states and cities towards viability gap funding.
Shri Arun Maira, member Planning Commission who spoke on the occasion highlighted the need to demonstrate innovative and replicable models involving all Stakeholders and also said community participation is a sine quo non for the success of RAY.
The conference was attended by State Ministers, Principal Secretaries / Secretaries of the concerned State departments, Mayor of Kolkata, Representatives from Central government departments like Defence, Civil Aviation, Environment, Health etc, Eminent NGOs, eminent experts and academia.
Eminent social workers such as Madhu Kishwar, Sheela Patel, Vasimalai also welcomed the bold steps of the Government Of India in launching the path-breaking initiative and stressed the need to involve the communities from the planning stage till execution and post maintenance.
The states welcomed the initiatives taken by the Central Government and expressed support for the new programme. Focus was on larger cities, states requested that programme should be extended to smaller cities as well. The representatives from special categories states highlighted the need to keep in view special environment requirements while framing norms under projects. States also highlighted need to closely integrate livelihood opportunities into the programme and also wanted to have liberal financial norms given the fund constraints of states/ Urban Local Bodies.
The Minister of HUPA&C also released two statistical compendiums on Housing in India and Slums in India- 2011 and RAY guidelines.
Concluding the one day deliberations Kumari Selja reiterated that RAY in a joint venture between Centre, State and Urban Local Bodies with communities as a central driving force to achieve the ambitious objective of slum free India.