Only 57% of housing scheme target met

Only 57% of housing scheme target met

New Delhi: At least 40% of the rural homes that were to be constructed under a Union government programme this financial year have not been built yet—the worst performance in four years.

Of the 2.91 million homes that were targeted to be built in the villages in the year to 31 March, only 1.66 million have been constructed, the ministry of rural development said in reply to a question in Parliament.

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About 57% of the construction target for 2010-11 under the programme was achieved as on 1 February, and 58% of the total available funds, including the opening balance from the previous year, were spent as on 3 March, the ministry said.

The Centre had allotted Rs10,053.7 crore for the scheme for this financial year.

“Sometimes the data from states comes with a lag, so that might be the reason behind a low achievement rate," said an official of the rural development ministry who did not want to be identified. Still, “less than 60% of the target being met is quite a dismal figure and it seems unlikely that in the last month of the year, the figures would improve drastically".

The rural development ministry is the nodal agency for implementing the scheme.

The Indira Awaas Yojana housing scheme for the rural poor was launched in 1985. Under this, the Union government funds 75% of the cost of constructing a rural home and the states contribute the balance.

In 2007-08, 94% of the programme’s construction target was achieved, followed by 100% in the next year and 84% in 2009-10.

Based on the projected housing shortage in the country, the Planning Commission set a target of building 15 million rural homes under the Indira Awaas Yojana in the ongoing 11th Five-Year Plan period, which ends in 2012. So far, only about 9.17 million homes have been constructed.

“It might be a little hard to comment on the figures up to February since the physical achievement refers to completed houses and not those under construction," said Jawed Khan, research officer, at the Centre for Budget Governance and Accountability (CBGA), a New Delhi-based think tank. “However, one can say there is a lot of corruption at the grass roots, which results in very poor completion rates of houses," he added.

Khan also blamed the potential beneficiaries, saying several of them used funds given under the scheme for building homes for “consumption purposes", leading to low completion rates.

Funds under the Indira Awaas scheme are allocated to panchayats, or local self governments, who then pass it on to the beneficiaries.

“Also, there are other problems like extremist resistance to development activities in Maoist-affected areas that make it difficult to achieve the targets," he said.

The cost of constructing a rural house under the programme is Rs45,000 in the plains, and Rs48,500 in hilly areas or in districts categorized as “difficult" because of the Left-wing extremism.