The Narendra Modi government’s PM Awaas Yojana (Grameen) is a big-ticket scheme the BJP plans to highlight in its campaign for the Lok Sabha election.
New Delhi: The Narendra Modi government’s target of constructing one crore houses by 31 March this year under its flagship rural housing scheme could face a hurdle because of seven states — four of which are ruled by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
According to a note prepared by the Union Rural Development Ministry, there has been a “gap” in sanction of rural houses against the allocated target, with seven states displaying a “major gap”.
The states are Bihar, Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra. Of these, the BJP is in office in Assam, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra and, as the smaller partner with the Janata Dal (United), in Bihar.
The note was prepared for a meeting of the performance review committee, held on 15 and 16 January, to evaluate the rollout of all schemes under the ministry.
Overall target at risk
The Pradhan Mantri Awaas Yojana (Grameen) is one of the big-ticket initiatives the BJP plans to highlight in its Lok Sabha poll campaign.
The re-structured version of the Congress-era Indira Awaas Yojana, PMAY (G) was introduced on 1 April 2016, with the aim to provide “housing for all” by 2022. The immediate goal, however, is to cover one crore households living in kutcha/dilapidated houses by 31 March 2019.
According to the ministry’s evaluation, “as against the total target of 1 crore houses, 4.85 lakh houses are still pending to be sanctioned as on 9 January 2019”.
The ministry note categorically states that the delay in sanctioning houses can upset the overall target.
“This will come in the way of achievement of the target of construction of 1 crore PMAY-G houses by March 2019,” it adds.
The ministry had instructed all states to ensure 100 per cent sanction of their respective targets by 31 May last year.
However, around five per cent of the houses still remain to be sanctioned, despite the deadline for completing 1 crore houses being just two months away.
Of the 4.85 lakh houses yet to be sanctioned, half, or 2.4 lakh, are in Bihar alone. Ministry officials attributed the massive delays in Bihar to sand shortage in the state in light of the large-scale restrictions imposed by the Nitish Kumar government on sand mining in July 2017.
They added that the number of houses yet to be sanctioned in the other states “isn’t very high and the government will be able to meet its targets”.
Meanwhile, there are over 7 lakh houses that have not been completed even after the “stipulated 12 months from the date of sanction”, the note points out.
The “maximum number of delayed houses”, according to the ministry, are in Bihar, Odisha, Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Assam, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal. Of these, the BJP is in office in Bihar, Maharashtra, Assam, Jharkhand and Uttar Pradesh, and was in power in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan until December last year.
The political significance
With rural housing being a key welfare scheme for this government, the ministry is now monitoring the final lap closely. States have been asked to submit reports on 31 January, 28 February, 15 March and 31 March.
Welfare is set to be one of the main planks of the BJP in its 2019 campaign, with the party taking great pains to brand itself as pro-poor and pro-rural.
The BJP believes rural housing has been one of its biggest successes, and would want to go to the voters with its achievements on this front. PM Narendra Modi makes it a point to mention his government’s work on the rural-housing front in most of his speeches.