Merely 4% of the houses that the Modi government promised under the rural housing scheme are complete. The Central government’s flagship programme called PMAY-G (Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojna-Grameen) is a rural welfare programme.
What is PMAY-G?
The objective is to construct concrete homes with basic amenities for homeless citizens living in the villages who can’t afford pucca shelter. PMAY-G was rolled out in 2016 with the target of 3 crore houses by August 2022. The target for last year was 63.77 lakh homes of which only 2,65,250 homes have been constructed, according to government data and audit report of the Ministry of Rural Development.
Of course, the first reason that comes to mind for the lag is the COVID-19 pandemic and the lockdown last year. Not only did it hamper the private sector, the pandemic also obstructed the flow of government initiatives on the ground. PMAY-G suffered from the stoppage of work equally. Construction was at a standstill for months together.
Another reason is that although the Central government had an ambitious target for the year, the states sanctioned only half of the houses (35.57 lakh pucca homes). This statistic is a far cry from the previous year when the gap for state sanctions was only 440,000 compared to 27.9 lakh this year. The gaps are widest for Chhattisgarh, Assam, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal and Rajasthan. West Bengal suffered from the double blow of the destructive Cyclone Amphan and COVID-19 together, which made construction work impossible.
The Ministry has asked state governments and union territories to pull up their socks in this regard. They are supposed to speed up so that they can meet the targets by March 31, 2021. Among the defaulters, Bihar, Jharkhand and Odisha have an exceptionally low rate of daily progress.
States bear a big percentage of the cost for construction. Since they had to redirect their funds for COVID-19 relief and healthcare measures, some of them could not release enough funding for PMAY-G. State elections have also slowed down the pace as has the distribution of targets to the districts.
The rural poor deserve better housing in these times, when staying indoors would protect them not only from the elements but also from a deadly disease and cyclones. PMAY-G has good intentions of putting a roof over their heads; if the execution was equally good, the rural poor would have nothing to fear.