New Delhi: Faced with a massive shortfall in the construction of houses under the prime minister’s rural housing scheme, the ministry of rural development has devised a time-bound mason training program to speed up construction.
The ministry has an ambitious target of building around 10 million houses by March 2019 under the Pradhan Mantri Awaas Yojana–Gramin (PMAY-G), which was launched on 20 November, 2016. The scheme was earlier called the Indira Awaas Yojana.
During the period 2012-13 to 2015-16, on an average 1.2 million houses were built annually. The target to construct 10 million houses in the three years beginning 2016-17 means the government will have to build at least 3.3 million houses a year. The target for 2016-17 is around 7.7 million which includes past shortfall of around 3.3 million houses in addition to this year’s 4.4 million. As the scheme was launched in November 2016, so these 7.7 million houses will be built by October 2017.
The government is, however, confident of meeting the target said a senior official from the rural development ministry. “So as to speed up the whole process, the ministry has taken several initiatives including the mason training program where in masons will be trained to build houses within 6 months as against the earlier time period of 18 months,” said Prashant Kumar, joint secretary.
The ministry is also appointing programme management units so as to monitor the whole process at all the block levels of the state, Kumar added. “Besides this we also have a Tag officer called Awaas Sahayak who will act as a motivator or facilitator for the timely construction of houses.”
States will be given recognition for the achievement of their timely targets by March 2018-19, Kumar said.
Interestingly, the ministry has also come up with housing design typology wherein the ministry has designed layouts for different terrains.
The ambitious target of covering 1 crore households living in kutcha or dilapidated houses in the three years from 2016-17 to 2018-19 will be met in a phased manned, according to the ministry.
Of the target of 1 crore houses, allocation for about 4.4 million will be made by December 2017, while the remaining 5.6 million will be made in the 2017-18 financial year.
Data available with the ministry of rural development shows a huge gap between the annual target set by the government and the actual building of rural houses between 2010-11 and 2016-17, and that the gap has been worsening over the years.
Of the target of building 17.22 million houses, set by the government for the period from 2010-11 to 2016-17, only about 12 million have been built so far. Interestingly, budget documents show that fund allocation in the last five years has been made for 30.86 million houses, cumulative figures show.
“These cumulative figures raise two questions. First: Why the targets are so much lower than the funds budgeted? and second: Why are the targets not being met even though the money is obviously available?” asks Pronab Sen, former chairman of the National Statistical Commission.
Data suggests that the shortfall from 2010-11 to 2016-17 stands around 5.4 million, but officials from the ministry peg it at around 3.6 million.
The average number of houses built in a year was around 1.2 million from 2012-13 to 2014-15. The government has now been able to speed up the process, building around 1.8 million houses in 2015-16 and a total of around 2.21 million so far—nearly double the number completed each year in the 2012-13 to 2014-15 period. But the two-fold increase in the target—from 2.02 in 2015-16 to 4.36 in 2016-17—along with the past shortfall of 3.3 million, could be far too ambitious.