The Centre will soon implement Phase II of the Rajiv Awas Yojna with a focus on providing long-term and bankable property rights to slum dwellers, Union Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation Minister Ajay Maken said, soon after taking charge of his new Ministry on Tuesday.
Talking to journalists at his office in Nirman Bhavan, Mr. Maken said the Centre will adopt the twin strategy of funding and “mandatory reforms” in States, to implement its policies for the benefit of the poor in the country.
“Approximately 31 per cent of the country’s population live in cities, and almost 25 per cent of them live in slums. It is ironical that both the poorest and the richest live so close together and in such different circumstances.”
The Minister said after completion of the pilot projects under Phase I of the Rajiv Awas Yojna, the Government will implement Phase II, in association with the State governments.
“There will be certain conditions that the States will have to avail of, for the funding.”
Though the Centre will provide the model Bill to the States, in the first year, they will be required to at least issue an executive order to implement them, and in the subsequent year they will be expected to legislate laws in this regard.
“We want to give property rights to slum dwellers, and we also want to make these rights bankable, so that they may be able to raise loans on them,” he said.
Mr. Maken said the Centre was also keen on making sure that whenever there is any application for change in the Floor Area Ratio (FAR) for projects, 35 per cent of the dwelling units are earmarked for the economically weaker sections.
“Alternately, 15 per cent to 20 per cent of the FAR should be reserved for the EWS category housing.”
Development control norms
As for compliance of these guidelines by the private sector, he said that could be achieved through the development control norms which are decided by the States.
The Minister said there were enough funds for housing and poverty alleviation. “Under the 12 Five Year Plan, we have approximately Rs. 80,000 crore for this.”
Mr. Maken said the Centre would also be launching the National Urban Livelihood Mission to protect the rights of the street vendors, and get the assistance of the States in this endeavour.
“We will also promote micro-level businesses, which the poor run, by providing credit at low interest rates for such ventures.”
Hoping to be able to quickly get down to the task at hand, Mr. Maken said the government was also keen to promote in-situ redevelopment schemes for slum clusters.
“If you relocate people far away from their place of work, they usually sell the tenements and return. So, we have defined ‘vicinity’ to existing settlements to refer to a radius of five kilometres.”
The Minister said the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission has also yielded desired results in the field of collection of property tax and rent control laws, and similarly new legislations will hopefully yield the desired results.