Even while the BJP-led central government appears to be sincerely working to fulfil Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s poll promise of “Housing for All”, we have this situation where we have some 1.64 lakh government-constructed houses lying vacant across India. AAP- ruled Delhi tops the list of states in the country with most number of low-cost houses lying vacant.
The top five states with vacant houses – Delhi with 36,623 houses, Maharashtra 35,517, Telangana 18,086, Uttar Pradesh 11,916 and Andhra Pradesh 10,863 – account for 70% of the total low-cost vacant houses across India. The vacant low-cost houses are the previous Congress-led UPA government’s legacy which the Modi government is struggling with.
All of these low-cost houses were constructed under different urban housing schemes sanctioned under Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) and Rajiv Awas Yojana (RAY). After the Modi government launched the Housing For All Mission in June 2015, all the housing schemes were subsumed by Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY) and the government set itself an ambitious target of building two crore low-cost houses under four components.
According to statistics provided by the housing and urban affairs ministry, there were 2.5 lakh vacant houses when the Modi government assumed power in May 2014. These low-cost houses were vacant because in many cases they were planned in locations far away from residential colonies or business centres, which are means of livelihood for people. Many projects were incomplete when the UPA government exited office.
About 3.04 lakh low cost houses sanctioned by UPA have been completed since May 2014. This has given an inventory of 5.54 lakh low cost vacant houses to the Modi government. Speaking to ET, PMAY-Urban mission director Amrit Abhijat said, “Over the years we have been pushing state governments to allot these houses. Since they have been lying locked for years, new problems are coming up. But we are pursuing the state governments and asking them to allot these houses. In some cases we have also asked them if there are small issues like repair work or missing fitments, anything to be undertaken, they should put in some money and do that.”
After numerous follow-ups, the states have managed to allot 3.9 lakh houses. However, the ministry still has a huge backlog to clear. “With the change in dispensation in states – such as Uttar Pradesh – we have been able to push for allotment” said a senior ministry official, who did not wish to be identified. “Even though West Bengal has not been participating in many Centreled programmes, it has quite successfully allotted low-cost houses.”