BLAMING THE opposition for its stand on the government’s earlier attempts to amend the land acquisition Bill, Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation Minister Venkaiah Naidu on Tuesday said problems in acquiring land have put a spanner in the pace of projects submitted under the Housing for All scheme for the urban poor.
In his statement during a discussion on the Demand for Grants for his ministry, Naidu said chief ministers of some of the states, where the proposals are lagging, have informed him that the unavailability of land is a problem. “Land is an issue. The land acquisition Bill is hanging in the balance. Unfortunately, it hasn’t found favour with our friends in the opposition,” said Naidu.
The Land Acquisition Amendment Bill of the NDA government had proposed to exempt ‘affordable housing’ along with four other categories from the requirement of taking majority landowners’ consent and socio-economic impact assessment. However, despite taking the ordinance route thrice, the government failed to pass its amendments owing to stiff resistance from farmers’ organisation and opposition parties.
The Housing for All scheme (Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana) launched by PM Narendra Modi in June 2015 aims to construct a total of 2 crore houses for the urban poor over a seven-year period mainly through private participation.
“In the past, housing projects were sanctioned irrespective of the availability of land… we have now asked the states to commit to the availability of land before housing projects proposed by them are approved,” said Naidu, referring to the UPA government’s similar housing scheme under the JNNURM.
According to the minister, of the 8.14 lakh houses constructed under JNNURM over a 10-year period, 2.26 lakh were lying vacant. “Due to the paucity of land, many slum dwellers were made to shift to high-rises with no lift. This, in addition to the lack of planning or proper infrastructure, is the reason that many remained unoccupied,” he said.