Emphasising on the need to formulate new schemes aimed at slum redevelopment and affordable housing for the urban poor, Union Urban Development, Housing & Urban Poverty Alleviation Minister Shri M. Venkaiah Naidu on Tuesday observed the need to give a fillip to the flow of bank finance for the poor in urban areas.
Shri Naidu held a series of review meetings regarding the ongoing tasks of the Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation and also to finalize the broad features of the new proposed schemes. The minister also directed for formulation of new schemes for slum redevelopment and affordable housing for the urban poor. In addition to this, the minister also directed enlargement of the skill upgradation component in the urban livelihood programme.
The Minister impressed upon the officers that new schemes should be aimed at bringing maximum benefit to the excluded sections of the society, especially those belonging to the weaker sections e.g. EWS, LIG, etc. He stated that these schemes must be simple in conception and actively involve various stakeholders including State Governments, Urban Local-Bodies, Civil Society/NGOs as well as banks and financial institutions. He called for involvement of the private partners through a transparent and competitive process so as to inject more managerial and financial efficiencies in the execution of the projects.
The Minister observed that in view of the huge shortage of urban housing, estimated at around 19 million, active participation of all the stakeholders in a synchronous fashion is necessary. This is also to be seen in the context of nearly 10 million houses that are lying vacant/ locked, as per the last Census. The task would thus require major policy changes and reforms at the level of both Central as well as State Governments. “If we carry on with a business-as-usual approach, the housing shortage would balloon to 30 million by the year 2020”, he observed. While the Government of India will not shy away from granting suitable fiscal and non-fiscal concessions, the State Governments need to ensure speedy clearances of housing and civic infrastructure projects and also making available more liberal building norms for affordable housing projects.
The Minister issued instructions for the expeditious completion of the houses, under construction, estimated to be around 3.77 lakh, as the top-most priority under the JnNURM, which is scheduled to close in March, 2015. The Minister noted that of the 14.43 lakh houses embarked upon, only 8.09 lakh could be completed and of these 2.22 lakh are yet to be occupied by the allottees.
He observed that there is a need to give a fillip to the flow of bank finance for housing for the poor in urban areas. For this purpose, there is a need to create an Apex Bank to monitor the financing in urban areas. The matter should be taken up with the Finance Ministry to extend the jurisdiction of NABARD to the urban areas or give this responsibility to any other agency like SIDBI.
He directed that the skill training of the urban poor should be accorded more emphasis so that young people get permanent livelihoods through either wage-employment or self-employment ventures. While reviewing the scheme for “Shelters for Urban Homeless”, he advised that involvement of the individual donors, NGOs, charitable organisations should also be encouraged in construction of and maintenance of shelters for urban homeless. The shelters may be allowed to be named after such donors. He will take up the matter with the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation to allow construction of shelters for homeless under MPLAD Scheme as well, he stated.
The Minister declared that more cities will be taken up under National Urban Livelihoods Mission so that the benefits reach to the maximum number of poor people living in the cities. City Livelihood Centres will be set up in all the cities where the poor people will get facilities to display and sell their products.