Millennium Post

Housing For Poor is govt priority: Min

Union Minister Chaudhary Birender Singh on Wednesday reiterated that ‘Housing for the poor’ continues to be a priority area for the Narendra Modi government.

“The government has already announced to provide good quality house to all by 2022. As part of this, we have launched the Pradhan Mantri Awaas Yojana (PMAY). Approval for the urban component was given in 2015 itself. The Cabinet approved the rural component on March 23, 2016,” said the Union Minister for Rural Development, Drinking Water and Sanitation. 

The minister said PMAY had been revamped and the subsidy provided by the state and the Central government had increased substantially by over 70 per cent. “From Rs 70,000, the allocation has now gone up to Rs 1,20,000. In hilly and difficult areas, it has increased from Rs 75,000 to Rs 1,30,000,” he added. 

“Wages under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) have also been revised. All these taken together would ensure that a rural beneficiary gets more than Rs 1,50,000 for the construction of a house,” he said. The minister added that the government aimed “to construct 1 crore houses in three years”.

He said the government would spend Rs 81,975 crore on rural housing till 2018-19. “In addition, states would also be spending over Rs 50,000 crore (on the project). The annual allocation from the Central government will go up from Rs 10,025 crore to more than Rs 27,000 crore,” added Singh. 

He, however, said that the construction of the targeted houses in such a short time might generate shortage of building material. “Production of building material such as bricks from fly ash and soil stabilised earth blocks are approved activities under MGNREGA. 

There are presentations on the use of bamboo in this workshop. We will examine if bamboo-related activity can also be covered under the MGNREGA, especially in the North-East,” he added.

Singh said, “The government has invested heavily in infrastructure. Construction is the fastest growing employment sector. There will be a lot of demand for masons, even from rural areas. Unless we increase the supply of skilled masons, we will not be able to meet our target. We have also started a ‘Masons Training Programme’ for the purpose.” 

Singh said, “Rural housing for the poor is undergoing a paradigm shift. Resources have been increased substantially. With the subsidy itself, a poor person can construct a good house. There is an additional stress on quality. Attractive and low-cost designs are available. Masons, working on rural houses, shall receive formal training. The administrative and monitoring processes have been streamlined. Transparency is paramount in all components of the programme.” 
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