In 2009, the Government of India announced a scheme for slum dwellers and the urban poor named Rajiv Awas Yojana (RAY). The scheme was aimed at creating a ‘Slum Free India’ by giving support to those States which are willing to assign property rights to slum dwellers. The Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation (MoHUPA) prepared Guidelines for Slum Free City Planning to assist the preparatory activities under RAY and this was circulated to all States and Union Territories. RAY calls for a multi-pronged approach focusing on the following aspects:
- Bringing existing slums within the formal system and enabling them to avail the same level of basic amenities as the rest of the town/city.
- Redressing the failures of the formal system that lead to the creation of slums; and
- Tackling the shortages of urban land and housing that keep shelter out of reach of the urban poor and force them to resort to extra-legal solutions in a bid to retain their sources of livelihood and employment.
Scope and Main Areas of Focus
The Rajiv Awas Yojana envisages a ‘Slum-free India’ with inclusive and equitable cities in which every citizen has access to basic civic and social services and decent shelter. It aims to achieve this vision by encouraging States/Union Territories to tackle the problem of slums in a definitive manner, by a multi-pronged approach. It focuses on bringing all existing slums, notified or non-notified within the formal system and enabling them to avail of the same level of basic amenities as the rest of the town. It also seeks to tackle the shortages of urban land and housing that keeps shelter out of reach of the urban poor. The Rajiv Awas Yojana aims to provide support to enable States to redevelop all existing slums in a holistic and integrated way and to create new affordable housing stock.
Irregularity in allotments is another drawback of the scheme. In many cases people who do not live in slum areas have been allotted a house under the scheme while the genuinely needy have been deprived of the benefits of the scheme. This irregularity has in fact become a big roadblock in the path of creating a slum free India.
Coverage and Central Assistance
The choice of cities would be made by the States, according to their aspirations and financial and resource arrangements in consultation with the Centre that will oversee adherence to the spirit and guidelines of the scheme. About 250 cities are expected to be covered by the end of the Twelfth Five Year Plan. Central funds under all components will be released in three installments as Additional Central Assistance. The first installment of one-third will be released to the State Government or its designated State Level agencies following the sanction of the Detailed Project Reports of the Slum-free City projects by a Central Sanctioning-cum- Monitoring Committee (CSMC), availability to the project of the matching share. Subsequent installments will be released after Utilisation Certificate for at least 70 per cent of the earlier central release and also that of the State share is received. Taking into consideration the pace of expenditure and overall availability of Central funds lying with the State, release of installments shall also be subject to achievement of reforms, or milestones agreed for implementation of reforms as envisaged in the Memorandum of Agreement.
The strategy for implementation of RAY proposes open architecture with sufficient flexibility to the States to decide their pace of implementation and models for arranging land, resources, housing, and partnerships, with the incentive of Central support attached to the condition that they proceed systematically, with careful preparation, and commit to creating the conditions for inclusive urban growth.
Problems and Challenges
The Rajiv Awas Yojana was supposed to make India a slum free country but it has not achieved the desired result till date. The scheme has not been able to follow implementation measures in the best possible manner as a result of which the country still continues to find people living in slums. The cooperation of the community in the scheme is essential for the scheme to attain success. But there has also been very limited participation of the community in the scheme so far. As a result, the Government has not been able to address the real problems areas of slum areas. Irregularity in allotments is another drawback of the scheme. In many cases people who do not live in slum areas have been allotted a house under the scheme while the genuinely needy have been deprived of the benefits of the scheme. This irregularity has in fact become a big roadblock in the path of creating a slum free India. And even if the beneficiaries have been allotted houses, they tend to give the allotted house on rent as they do not have a source of income, and stay on in the slums. This defeats the purpose of the scheme and is a major problem. Data ratification of poverty and people living in the slums have not been properly matched in the record books as a result of which the all needy have still not ‘qualified’ for a house and are still leading their lives in the slums. A quick and correct determination of the number of people living in the slums is obviously very importance for the allocation of the houses to poor people. Unless all these problems are resolved and the challenges met realistically, a slum free India will remain a dream.