Urban planners attached to an advocacy group on Panchayati Raj here on Monday called upon the Rajasthan Government to pay greater attention to the Centre's flagship scheme, Rajiv Awas Yojana, for providing affordable housing to slum dwellers in the cities. The focus of the Yojana is on according property rights to people living in slums.
The scheme is expected to cover about 250 cities with a population of more than one lakh across the country. As part of the scheme, the Union Government will provide financial assistance to the States willing to assign property rights to slum dwellers and take up slum re-development so as to create an affordable housing stock.
All six Municipal Corporations in Rajasthan – Jaipur, Ajmer-Pushkar, Udaipur, Kota, Jodhpur and Bikaner – are covered in the first phase of the scheme. Experts attached to the Society for Participatory Research in Asia (PRIA) said the scheme has an enormous potential for benefiting slum dwellers in view of its unique features for eradication of urban poverty.
The entitlement to property and deletion of habitations from the list of slum localities after the creation of basic civic amenities such as pathways, water supply, toilets, brick houses and drainage and location in secure areas would be a significant step towards providing succour to the urban poor, said PRIA State coordinator Krishan Tyagi.
The Yojana would turn out to be a comprehensive scheme making most of the towns in the desert State completely slum-free if it is executed in the right spirit and enthusiasm. Mr. Tyagi said while the authorities should make serious efforts to avail of the Yojana's benefits, political leaders in the State seemed “keen on providing houses to the poor in the rural areas alone”.
The State Government has arranged Rs.3,400 crore as loan from the Housing & Urban Development Corporation (HUDCO) for providing dwelling units to 7 lakh Below Poverty Line families in the next three years under the Chief Minister's Rural BPL Housing Scheme. Together with the Indira Awas Yojana works, housing facility would be extended to a total of 10 lakh BPL families during this period.
Mr. Tyagi said though the efforts for providing houses to the rural poor were praiseworthy, the people living in slums in the cities too needed proper attention. According to the 2011 Census, 5.6% of Rajasthan's total population and 22.4% of urban population lives in slums. “A similar spirit is required to ensure decent living conditions for this section of population,” he said. Citing the recent findings of the Jaipur Municipal Corporation, Mr. Tyagi said half of the slums, numbering about 100, in the Rajasthan capital had acquired basic facilities and needed a notification for their deletion from the list of slum colonies. Some of them are Bais Godown, Ambedkar Nagar, Kartarpura, Hathroi Bawadi and Sodala Main.
However, a large number of slum dwellers have to live in pathetic conditions in localities such as Phoos ka Bangala near Jaipur railway station, Azad Nagar in eastern Jaipur and Amani Shah Ka Nullah near the Cantonment areas. He said the JMC and Jaipur Development Authority must speed up the slum-free city plan of action and take effective action for implementation of the Yojana. The PRIA experts maintain that poverty and existence of slums continue to be the most critical problems in urban development. Though several slum improvement programmes have been launched in the State since 1973, their benefits have not accrued to the target population in the real terms.