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Indira Awaas Yojana: Houses for the Poorest



The Indira Awaas Yojana (IAY) can be described as the flagship programme of the Union Ministry of Rural Development. Ever since it has been operated, the programme has been benefiting families below the poverty line (BPL). The beneficiaries of the said plan have either been people whose houses are not up to the mark or ones who have nothing to call their home.


 

In a way, this programme has enabled the Indian Government to execute a bigger strategy of eradicating poverty from the country. It was during June 1996 that India signed the Istanbul Declaration on Human Settlement and ever since the Rural Development Ministry has focused on providing living spaces for one and all in the country. Being party to this treaty, India has realised how important it is for the national administration to provide healthy and secure housing facilities to all. After all, it is very important for an individual's overall well-being to have something that he or she can call home.

The major focus groups of this programme are the poor, who are living in pitiful conditions in the urban areas as well as the rural hinterlands. As per the Constitution of India, it is the responsibility of the panchayati raj institutions (PRIs) and the state governments to ensure that the poor in the rural have proper houses to them. However, the Indian Government too has become a part of the said initiative.

What is the aim of Indira Awaas Yojana?



Through the IAY, the Central government looks to create living spaces across the country for the poor. It is endeavouring to make these habitats friendly from an environmental point of view and also construct them in such a way that there are sufficient arrangements for the inhabitants to later on add to these facilities or even improve them. Through this project, the Indian Government is also trying to make available to them what are regarded as basic amenities in a civilised world - proper infrastructure, sanitation, proper drinking water and electricity, among others.

The Indian Government understands that a house is more than just a place where someone lives. It is a property that gives one the foundation from which to build a life, a career - it is a representation of that individual's position in the immediate community as well as outside it, and also reflects the cultural aspects of the person in question. A properly built home will not only safeguard one from various natural calamities, it will also make sure that the person can move places from thereon and contribute positively to the economic activities that are driving the country.

With the IAY, the Indian Government will be looking to create builders from among the common people. This can be regarded as a form of participation but the other way round. Here the national administration will take part in the process to empower the people to build their own houses in ways that they have seen being done before them and ones which they have a certain extent of control over.

 

When was the Indira Awaas Yojana launched?



The IAY had been started during June 1985. Back then it was a part of the Rural Landless Employment Guarantee Programme (RLEGP). At that time, a certain portion of the funds allocated for RLEGP had been set aside for providing money to schedule caste and scheduled tribe people as well as labourers who did not own any land. The end aim in this case was to help them make their own houses.

When the Jawahar Rozgar Yojana (JRY) was started during April 1985, six per cent of the funds assigned for the project were set apart for helping the landless workers and STs and SCs build their own houses. During 1993-94, families, which were neither SCs nor STs, were brought within the ambit of the programme and the part of JRY meant to help these people was increased to 10 per cent.

What is the fund-requirement for Indira Awaas Yojana?



The expenses for the IAY keep changing with regards to the place where it is being executed. Certain areas have been noted as difficult areas, where the administration feels that the costs of construction could be more. The areas where raw materials will not be available readily or where the facilities for connectivity are not in order have been classified as being difficult areas. In fact, also included in this list are locations where the geological, geographical and climatic conditions are not exactly conducive. The conditions have to be so hard that they are able to raise the costs of construction in the end. This is the basic guideline being followed in determination and identification of the difficult places.

It will be the responsibility of the state governments to identify the difficult areas and they would need to come up with specific methods for determining the same. However, before the plan is implemented, it will have to receive the approval of Empowered Committee for the rural housing programme. In this case the village panchayats will be regarded as units.

When will Indira Awaas Yojana be completed?



At present, this is an ongoing project.

Which areas are covered by Indira Awaas Yojana?



The programme covers all the states and union territories in India.

 

How is Indira Awaas Yojana being executed?



As part of the IAY, the central government IS fortifying the existing process and making sure that the ones, executing the project, receive all the assistance that they need to take the project forward. This is why the government does not burden the project with any technology or design that cannot be used at a practical level. It plays the role of a supporter and a facilitator.

The way the houses are designed is decided on the basis of how the user wants them to be. The government also keeps in mind the following factors while making these houses and choosing their materials as well as the technologies that would be employed to erect them:

 

 
  • The beneficiaries should be able to afford them
  • They should use up as little as possible in energy and natural resources such as water and greenery, as long as they last
  • They should be adaptable
  • They should be easy to maintain
  • Some people should be employed while making them
  • They should be sustainable
  • They should be built in an environment-friendly way


The government is looking to identify the applicable building technologies and also improve local technologies that have traditionally been in vogue in the particular area. The basic goal is to develop houses that can last at least three decades. The houses are also being built in such a way that they do not stand out too much in contrast to other residences in the same location.

The authorities in question try to make sure that the particular settlement does not lose its original structure as a result of the construction of the new houses. In this programme, special focus is on SC and ST families, specially-abled individuals, and families run by women. There are certain depressed social groups in these areas that are not even able to express their need for a home. The government is looking to benefit them as well.

The government also provides new training to masons to enhance their existing traditional skill-sets. Engineers and construction workers are also trained as part of the programme. Mason groups, comprising women, are developed and trained in such a way that they are able to develop a sense of proper design, and technologies for constructing a house. Focus is also given on coming up with practices that can save significant sums of money. They are also taught how to manage the sites and construction activities properly. The panchayats are also expected to be assigned a major role in creating plans for the scheme and then carrying them out.

It is being expected that the gram sabhas are pointing out the beneficiaries of the programme. However, the criterion for identifying such households keeps changing on a consistent basis. The people can get their houses directly built by the government or they can get the land and money that they can use for the above purposes.



Technologies and materials that are approved by any of the following can be used by the state government to build its houses:

  • HUDCO
  • Engineering colleges
  • BMPTC
  • NGOs that have earned some repute in the domain of engineering
  • IITs


Materials and technologies that have been specified by the BIS could also be included in the project. The authorities have also been given permission to use material that has been used before or one that has been recycled. There is a special emphasis on using environment-friendly technologies in this regard. In case a new technology has to be adopted, permission for using the same needs to be taken beforehand from the Empowered Committee or any other agency. It is also important to provide information regarding the materials and techniques being used to the intended beneficiary.



All the houses being thus built should include the following:

  • Toilet
  • Smokeless chulhas - these could later on be replaced with a biogas or LPG connection
  • Soak pit
  • System for harvesting roof water, which is commensurate with local areas
  • Compost pit


In case the state government provides additional assistance, arrangements could be made to increase the minimum built area. The states can determine what the maximum area would be so that people do not incur debts in attempting to build their own houses.

Under normal circumstances the IAY concerns itself with one building at a time. However, if the beneficiaries want a duplex housing scheme then the authorities shall proceed in that way. In areas with shortage of space and high land prices the beneficiaries are permitted to erect multi-storeyed buildings and one floor is given to one family. In these cases, the building is not in excess of three floors - and this includes the ground floor. A multi-party agreement also needs to be inked with the state government and the said agreement should specify the responsibilities that have to be assumed in terms of maintenance and construction of the house in question. In case of the kutcha and broken down houses the authorities would upgrade the roves, walls and replace or repair them. This could be done using recycled and reused materials.

What are the criteria for a new house under Indira Awaas Yojana?



As per the IAY guidelines, a new house should have a built up area of at least 20 square meters and this does not include the toilet. A house will only be deemed pucca when it is capable of standing up to normal wear and tear that happens to a house owing to usage, or as a result of the action of natural elements such as various climatic conditions. The house should last at least 30 years and in that period the maintenance costs for the same should not be much - at least not out of bounds for the beneficiary.

The roof of the house should be built from permanent materials and the walls of these houses should be able to stand up to the vagaries of climate, which is common in the said area. The house owner should not have to plaster the inner walls other than when the outer walls become vulnerable to erosion. The state government in question can take the help of any technology that helps the house stand for 30 years and this would be inclusive of houses built from mud and bamboo as well.

What are the issues regarding Indira Awaas Yojana?



As of now there have been a number of issues with the IAY and most of them are related to the initiation stage. The programme, during the UPA regime, had seen an inadequate amount of funds being released and this has had a bad effect on the rate at which houses are being built. Data released by the Union Finance Ministry has also stated that like the previous years, financial problems could persist in the years ahead as well.

One of the hallmarks of development in India has been the unequal levels of the same especially when considered in the context of states and regions. The IAY programme is no exception to this norm either. There are states such as Bihar, Karnataka and Jammu and Kashmir, which have been unable to utilise the funds that have been provided to them. The actual progress of the project, as a result, has suffered highly in these states. However, states such as Jharkhand, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh have performed comparatively better in this regard. In fact, in Jharkhand the progress has been much better than what had been expected previously.

What are the controversies surrounding Indira Awaas Yojana?



There have been a number of controversies surrounding the IAY already. When the Indian Government had been planning to establish centralised databases like the Aadhar Card and the like there had been some concerns that if people did not have any centralised identity then they could be excluded as beneficiaries of the programme. Jairam Ramesh, who was the Rural Development Minister of India, had rued that there were many people who were outside the purview of the IAY. He had said that the people covered by the Unique Identification programme were lesser than the 75 to 80 per cent people of India who needed housing facilities.

 

As has been seen with other developmental programmes in India, middlemen have made their presence felt in the IAY as well. In fact the situation has reached such a head in places such as Bihar that the then Chief Minister Nitish Kumar had to urge people to go ahead and complain against the meddlesome nuisances to the police. According to him, such an act would ensure that the programme went ahead properly and there was no corruption to halt its progress. He had also prescribed that action should be taken against police officers who did not do anything against the middlemen against whom FIRs had been lodged.

In some instances it has been seen that people who were previously on the BPL list had their names struck off the same after they were benefitted as a part of the IAY. The pretext in these cases was that since they had houses they did not qualify anymore as BPL. This has seriously hampered people who were previously in the BPL list and got their livelihood from their inclusion in the same. In a way this only raises some serious questions about the social security system in place in India.






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