With an aim to address agriculture distress, the Modi government is building over 51 lakh permanent houses under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana-Gramin (PMAY-G). It has been learnt that of the 51 lakh houses slated for construction under the scheme in 2017-18, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan — eight lakh, 4.5 lakh and four lakh — account for more than 30 per cent of the houses to be built. All three states go to polls later this year just before the general elections in 2019. West Bengal accounts for eight lakh houses and Odisha another six lakh houses, both states where the BJP seeks to emerge as the main opposition party.
“We have so far completed 16.02 lakh houses. There are another 35-36 lakh, where beneficiaries have already received the final instalment of money to enable completion before March-end. In all, we expect construction of 54 lakh units this fiscal, including about three lakh under the old Indira Awas Yojana (IAY) scheme,” a top Rural Development Ministry official said.
If achieved, the 54 lakh rural houses to be built under central schemes in 2017-18 will be far higher than the 32.24 lakh in 2016-17, 18.24 lakh in 2015-16, 11.89 lakh in 2014-15, 10.49 lakh in 2013-14 and 10.47 lakh in 2012-13.
The idea of constructing pucca homes for one crore-plus rural families may prove politically useful, as beneficiaries would mainly comprise Dalit, Adivasi and Most Backward Classes. The crash in farm commodity prices is seen to have largely impacted the so-called dominant landowning communities such as Jats, Marathas, Patidars, Kapus and Yadavs. While the landless have also been hit, with average all-India annual rural wage growth falling from 6.8 to 4.9 per cent between July and October, the decline is sharper for agricultural (from 8.1 to 4.7 per cent) than for non-agricultural occupations (5.7 to 5.1 per cent).
While the landless have also been hit, with average all-India annual rural wage growth falling from 6.8 to 4.9 per cent between July and October, the decline is sharper for agricultural (from 8.1 to 4.7 per cent) than for non-agricultural occupations (5.7 to 5.1 per cent). The beneficiaries under PMAY-G are largely poor rural families without or in houses with less than two rooms made of kutcha walls and roof. The Modi government has identified 2.95 crore such households, based on data from the Socio Economic and Caste Census of 2011 (undertaken under the previous UPA regime) and verified by the Gram Sabha concerned (to ensure they actually stay in a kutcha home). Out of the 2.95 crore beneficiaries, one crore are to be covered before March 2019 and the rest by 2022.