True to the saying "Home is where one starts from," it seems politicking in Odisha kicks off in a big way from the housing schemes when the State needs a whopping 34 lakh pucca houses by the end of the year 2022.
As of today, over 16.75 lakh pucca houses have been constructed in the State, when under PM Awas Yojana (Gramin) a whopping over 18.36 lakh eligible beneficiaries were sanctioned houses under the scheme.
In addition, under the AWAS+ based survey, another 7.46422 lakh were found eligible to avail the PMAY-G. In sum, a total of 25.82 lakh households in Odisha are eligible to avail of the benefit under the PMAY-G scheme.
The main aim of the PMAY-G scheme is to provide pucca houses with basic amenities. An individual who does not own a house and people who live in kutcha houses or houses which are severely damaged can avail of the scheme.
Pucca Houses Odisha Needs?
Even though the SECC-2011 list saw enlisting of 41,72,720 households in Odisha, as per Census 2011, 42 percent or 33.89 lakh households dwell in one or two-room kaccha houses.
While the Central scheme targets to cover 25.82 lakh households, another over 8.07 lakh households in the State need a pucca house, reveals the Census data.
Politics Takes Centrestage
Under the PMAY-G scheme, the Centre has released a total of Rs 13,560.73 crore since 2016-17. But the pace of construction slows down in the State since 2019-20 (the year preceding the pandemic year).
As per the Ministry of Rural Development (MoRD) data, Odisha constructed over 4.31 lakh PMAY-G houses in the year 2017-18, the number dwindled to 4.03 lakh in 2018-19, 3.61 lakh in 2019-20, 3.95 lakh in 2020-21 and 84,216 in 2021-22 (till Dec 16, 2021).
While the trend of snails' pace construction under the PMAY-G is evident in 2019-20, it becomes conspicuous in 2021-22, when with only 3-months left, the number is still below the 1 lakh benchmark.
The politics over housing is to the fore when in a video message yesterday, CM Naveen Patnaik said, "Many eligible families wait for a long time to get a house under the Central scheme. And, in this regard, I have drawn the attention of the Central government. Sadly, people in tribal areas and western Odisha are affected."
CM's further said, "State will continue its effort to bring more house for Odisha. If the Central government will not accept the just demands of the State, Odisha government will take steps to provide pucca houses to the people deprived of PMAY-G benefits."
Political observers construe this a political statement by CM Patnaik, especially when the Panchayat polls are looming large on the horizon.
Why Delay In PMAY-G?
When the guidelines ask for having a ready list of households, as per the data with MoRD, the total target of PMAY-G houses for Odisha has been fixed at over 16.76 lakh. But the total beneficiaries registered in the State stands at 16.67 lakh.
The data further shows that the beneficiary registration in the State has nosedived during the last three consecutive years. And in sync with the lower registration, the construction of houses in the State had also shown a sharp dip during the corresponding years.
Landless beneficiaries enlisted in PWL have been 57,932 in Odisha. The State government has provided land or financial assistance to purchase a homestead land stood at 9,281. A whopping 48,651 families are yet to receive land or assistance.
Why CM Sounds Political?
As per the PMAY-G guidelines, from the annual budgetary grant for PMAY-G, 95 percent of funds is to be released to States/UTs for the construction of new houses under PMAY-G. This would also include 4 percent allocation towards Administrative expenses. Around 5 percent of the budgetary grant is to be retained at the Central Level as a reserve fund for Special Projects.
Moreover, a Permanent Wait List (PWL) is generated to ensure that the State has a ready list of households to be covered under the scheme in the coming year (through Annual Select Lists), which will then lead to better planning and implementation.
The guideline has clearly stipulated that the construction of PMAY-G house has to be completed within 12-months of sanction.
Also, the targets under PMAY-G are set annually on the basis of the availability of eligible beneficiaries. Less registration will lead to a lesser allocation of PMAY-G houses for Odisha.
Instead of addressing the shortcomings, CM Patnaik's tone in the message seems to be shifting the blame on the Centre. Moreover, in tandem, the CM announced a Rs 1444cr package for repair works under Biju Pucca Ghar Yojana (BPGY), Construction Labour Housing Scheme and Mining Area Housing Scheme.
What Is BPGY?
Under the State government's flagship housing scheme, there are two categories - BPGY(Normal) and BPGY (Special). While the former scheme gives incentives to PMAY-G households, the latter focuses on housing assistance to poor households affected by natural calamities.
The Odisha Panchayati Raj department data shows completion of over 25.38 lakh houses under BPGY.
Number Game Only?
While under PMAY-G a total of over 16.75 lakh houses have been completed, and if the BPGY number of 25.38 lakh is added, then people with pucca houses in the State stand at 32.13 lakh. But NSSO survey didn't agree with the fact that over 94 percent of 34 lakh households in Odisha have pucca houses.
In a recent reply in Lok Sabha, MoRD MoS Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti had said, as per the Odisha Panchyati Raj Secretary's compliance report over irregularities in PMAY-G scheme, the State has accepted distribution of houses to the ineligible beneficiaries in Khordha (Odisha State Headquarters).
Moreover, the State has also accepted the finding that some houses constructed under PMAY-G scheme carry a sticker of BPGY.