- The Standing Committee on Rural Development (Chair: Mr. Prataprao Jadhav) submitted its report on the subject ‘Pradhan Mantri Awaas Yojana – Gramin: PMAY (G)’ on August 5, 2021. PMAY (G) was launched in April 2016, aiming to provide “housing for all” in rural areas by 2022, i.e., a pucca house with basic amenities to all households living without a house or in kutcha houses. The Committee noted that out of the combined phase 1 and 2 target, only 51% houses have been completed as on August 31, 2020. Key observations and recommendations of the Committee include:
- Selection of beneficiaries: Observing that out of the total 4.3 crore persons earmarked for the scheme, only 2.32 crore have become eligible after verification by Gram Sabhas, the Committee noted the possibility of a politically motivated approach in identification of beneficiaries. Further, 1.36 crore eligible households have been rejected by Gram Sabhas on grounds of migration and death. The Committee expressed that both these grounds of exclusion from beneficiary list cannot be supported as: (i) migrants eventually return to their villages, and (ii) transfer of ownership can be resorted to in case of deaths.
- To ensure proper identification of beneficiaries, the Committee recommended: (i) downsizing the role of Gram Sabhas and Panchayats in identification of beneficiaries and roping in private/ non-governmental bodies for verification and authentication, (ii) incorporation of a block development officer for oversight, and (iii) transferring ownership of the housing unit to the designated nominee after the death of a beneficiary.
- Financial assistance: The Committee took note of the problems faced by beneficiaries in availing loan of Rs 70,000 for construction of houses due to high collateral requirements, and high interest rates. Further, it observed the need to re-examine the need for additional finance to meet construction expenses. The Committee recommended the Ministry: (i) to provide a better loan product with minimum collateral requirements and lower interest rates, and (ii) to increase the unit assistance by ten thousand rupees (based on the present price index) for both plain and hilly areas due to increased transportation costs over the years.
- Convergence with other schemes: PMAY-G was specifically launched to incorporate basic amenities under convergence with other schemes. However, the Committee took note of various coordination issues regarding convergence of PMAY-G with other schemes such as the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS), Swacch Bharat Yojana (SBY), and Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY), among others. It recommended: (i) establishing close coordination with the concerned ministries for effective implementation, (ii) educating beneficiaries about the consequences of unwillingness to opt for MGNREGS, (iii) ensuring construction of functional toilets, and timely payment of Rs 12,000 assistance to beneficiaries under SBY, and (iv) improving the provision of LPG connections (from 30%) under PMUY.
- Using technology: The Committee noted that the AwaasApp enables officials and citizens to monitor the end-to-end execution of the scheme (beneficiary selection, disbursal of assistance, verification of construction process, and release of funds). It recommended: (i) imparting regular training programmes at panchayat levels regarding the operation of the app, (ii) developing a tracking system to check the occupancy status of the completed house, and (iii) linking schemes such as MGNREGS and SBA with the AwaasApp to enable convergence.
- Timely construction and payment: The Committee observed various issues related to timely construction and disbursal of instalments. It recommended: (i) devising a mechanism for deciding the percentage of instalment to be given to a beneficiary based on state-wise progress results, and (ii) modifying the methodology used by the central government to enable timely release of funds for the states. Further, the Committee proposed to the state governments to increase the number of mandatory District Development Coordination and Monitoring Committee (DISHA) meetings for better monitoring.
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