Punjab yet to avail Rs 470-cr JNNURM funds

Updated: Jul 1 2009, 04:35am hrs
Punjab has "failed miserably" to take benefit of the Centre's flagship Jawahar Lal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) scheme, as it is yet to avail Rs 470 crore against the seven-year allocation of Central assistance of Rs 538 crore, housing and urban poverty alleviation minister Kumari Selja alleged on Monday.

While neighbouring states of Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and even the Union Territory of Chandigarh have already availed their seven-year allocation commitment from the Centre, Punjab is "lagging behind", she told a press conference in Chandigarh.

"The Centre has no problem in releasing the funds, but it is entirely demand-based. If there is no demand from the state concerned, all we can do is to bring it to their notice, which we have been doing in Punjab's case," she said.

Terming JNNURM a great success, Selja said over 15 lakh houses are under construction for the urban poor under JNNURM, out of which one lakh have been built and about 4.5 lakh are being built. "There is a need to focus on urban housing programmes for the poor living in slums. The government proposes to introduce Rajiv Awas Yojana for slum dwellers and the urban poor on the lines of the Indira Awas Yojana for the rural poor. The schemes for affordable housing through partnership and the scheme for interest subsidy for urban housing would be dovetailed into the Rajiv Awas Yojana, which would extend support under JNNURM to states that are willing to assign property rights to people living in slum areas. This would help create a slum-free India in five years," she said.

Selja, who is also tourism minister, said both ministries under her have vast potential for employment generation and convergence between the two is under active consideration of the government. Selja said the thrust area for the government would be creation and improvement of tourism infrastructure, promotion and publicity of India as a preferred tourism destination overseas and promotion of domestic tourism.

She said the ministry is also planning to organise road shows in the north to woo private players for tourism development.