States unable to provide land to landless beneficiaries of the Central Government’s flagship housing scheme by December 15 will find their targets for this financial year redistributed to other States, the Centre warned recently. This means that the Centre will withdraw its share of funds allocated to errant States under the centrally sponsored Pradhan Mantri Gramin Awas Yojana (PMAY-G). More than a fifth of such landless beneficiaries are in Tamil Nadu.
The scheme was launched in April 2016 with a goal of building 2.95 crore houses for the rural poor by March 2022, with the target figure derived from the Socio-Economic Caste Survey 2011. Due to the COVID pandemic, the deadline was extended by two-years till March 2024. As per the statistics available with the Union Ministry of Rural Development, 2.06 crore houses had been constructed till November 2022.
With the scheme entering its final phase, the construction of houses for at least 2.5 lakh landless beneficiaries across the country is one of the last impediments. “Providing land to the landless PMAY-G beneficiaries for the construction of the houses is of utmost importance since they are among the most deserving beneficiaries in the permanent wait list of the scheme,” Rural Development Secretary N.N. Sinha told The Hindu.
The original figure of 4.48 lakh landless beneficiaries has shrunk to 2.56 lakh since the beginning of the scheme because of financial assistance provided to purchase land. However, 43% of landless beneficiaries are yet to be provided with land.
Tamil Nadu, with 56,709 landless beneficiaries still on the wait list, is the worst offender, followed by Maharashtra (48,272), Assam (23,064), Odisha (19,869) and Bihar (16,943). Tamil Nadu has been particularly slow in providing help -- it started out with 57,680 landless beneficiaries, and has provided land to only 971 over the course of the scheme, according to the Ministry’s data.
Several States that began with a shorter list of landless beneficiaries have managed to achieve the target, such as Uttar Pradesh, only had 2080 such beneficiaries at the beginning of the scheme, or Uttarakhand which had only 539. There are success stories too, as in the case of Madhya Pradesh, which began with a list of 37,519 such beneficiaries, and has only 1,364 unresolved cases as on date.
The Centre, eager to wrap up the scheme in September this year, had also introduced a penalty clause against State Governments for tardy implementation.