New Delhi: The ministry of rural development is aiming to complete the construction of 10 million houses for the rural poor by December 2018—three months in advance of the March 2019 deadline set by the National Democratic Alliance government, a government official said on Wednesday.

More than five million houses are to be completed by March 2018, the official cited above said, adding that one million houses had been completed and another three million were in various stages of construction.

“Given the progress we have seen so far, we are confident of completing the 10 million houses for rural poor—a target set by the prime minister (Narendra Modi) by December 2018," the official said on condition of anonymity.

Some 5.6 million people were sanctioned houses under the programme with the government using data from the 2011Socio-Economic Caste Census and gram sabha (village council) records, he said.

“The faster completion of quality houses has been assisted by payment of assistance directly into the beneficiary account through the IT-DBT (information technology-direct benefit transfer) platform," he said.

“Space technology and IT platforms are being used to monitor the cycle of house construction, right from identification of beneficiary to construction stages of houses to completion and each stage is being geo-tagged," the official said. “The finished houses come complete with facilities like toilets, liquefied petroleum gas connection, electricity connection, and drinking water availability," a rural development ministry statement said. Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Gramin) on 20 November last year in Agra and set the target of completing 10 million new houses by 31 March 2019.

To ensure that the target of building 5.1 million houses is met by 31 March 2018, the rural development ministry has in partnership with state governments taken many steps “including setting month-wise targets for completion of houses," the official cited above said.

“It is expected that 1.5 million houses will be completed by 31 December 2017; 2.5 million by 31 January 2018; 3.5 million houses by 28 February 2018 and 5.1 million houses by 31 March 2018," the rural development ministry statement said.

“The state governments have responded very well to the targets set to build the houses," said the official. But states like Assam, Bihar and Odisha are among those lagging behind due to problems like floods, he added.

States like Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal are among the best performing in terms of construction of new houses, the government statement said.

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