THE SMART AND THE SWACHH

A fo­cus on in­clu­sive­ness and an un­prece­dented sense of ur­gency mark the NDA gov­ern­ment’s de­vel­op­ment ef­forts

India Today - - 30 YEARS OF MODI GOVERNMENT | DEVELOPMENT - By Kaushik Deka

IN­CLU­SIVE DE­VEL­OP­MENT HAS BEEN a key­stone in pol­icy mak­ing for the Modi gov­ern­ment. From ac­cord­ing in­fra­struc­ture sta­tus to af­ford­able hous­ing to of­fer­ing con­ces­sional loans to the pas­sage of Real Es­tate (Reg­u­la­tion and De­vel­op­ment) Act (RERA) to vastly im­prov­ing ru­ral con­nec­tiv­ity, the fo­cus has been the end-user. Such a de­ter­mined push has the po­ten­tial to cre­ate un­fore­seen eco­nomic im­pact. Like the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yo­jana (PMAY) for low-cost hous­ing, which could un­leash a Rs 83 lakh crore wave of in­vest­ment in hous­ing over the next seven years, says CLSA In­dia Pvt Ltd.

“Our gov­ern­ment has in­vested Rs 4 lakh crore on ur­ban in­fra­struc­ture, four times the amount ap­proved un­der 10 years of UPA; 8.75 lakh af­ford­able houses for the ur­ban poor have been ap­proved so far,” says M. Venka­iah Naidu, Union min­is­ter for ur­ban de­vel­op­ment and hous­ing.

The tall claims not­with­stand­ing, the progress in cer­tain ar­eas has been slow. Data from the hous­ing min­istry says that be­tween 2014 and 2016, only about 1.2 mil­lion houses were cov­ered un­der the scheme at var­i­ous stages of im­ple­men­ta­tion. This is just 6 per cent of the over­all tar­get of 20 mil­lion houses by 2022. While the PMAY was of­fi­cially launched in 2015, it sub­sumed an ear­lier scheme called the Ra­jiv Awas Yo­jana and data for the two was com­piled in the re­sponse. Naidu’s next big ticket project is the Smart City mis­sion with 60 selected ci­ties hav­ing pro­posed an in­vest­ment of Rs 1.3 lakh crore. There is a big gap be­tween this pro­posed in­vest­ment and the ac­tual fund struc­ture as the gov­ern­ment has al­lo­cated only Rs 48,000 crore for 100 ci­ties for five years. The rest of the amount has to be gen­er­ated by ur­ban lo­cal bod­ies through the pub­lic-pri­vate part­ner­ship route. Naidu is con­fi­dent it will hap­pen.

In ru­ral ar­eas, the fo­cus has been on con­nec­tiv­ity. Gov­ern­ment sources say the high­est ever av­er­age daily con­struc­tion rate of 130 km per day has been achieved for ru­ral roads un­der the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yo­jana. This has led to an ad­di­tion of 47,400 km of PMGSY roads in 2016-17 with 11,641 ad­di­tional habi­ta­tions get­ting con­nected. But be­hind such sig­nif­i­cant progress is a con­stant mon­i­tor­ing ap­pa­ra­tus by the ru­ral de­vel­op­ment min­istry. The min­istry has also set up a nodal cen­tre, the Rashtriya Swach­hata Ken­dra at Ra­jghat, to keep tabs on the progress of the Swachh Bharat Mis­sion. Since its launch in 2014, over 40 mil­lion toi­lets have been built and 194,000 vil­lages are to­day said to be open defe­ca­tion-free.

Scru­tiny by the min­istry has also re­sulted in iden­ti­fi­ca­tion of 5.2 mil­lion fake job cards un­der MNREGA. The min­istry is now work­ing on a ru­ral trans­port scheme, which will fo­cus on pro­vid­ing ru­ral en­trepreneurs with pas­sen­ger ve­hi­cles at a 40 per cent dis­count. An­other plan is to launch ‘drought-proof’ wa­ter con­ser­va­tion pro­grammes in at least 50,000 gram pan­chay­ats by 2019.

When it comes to De­vel­op­ment of the North­east Re­gion (DONER) min­istry, the fo­cus of the Modi gov­ern­ment is ev­i­dent, as it has al­lo­cated nearly Rs 50,000 crore for the eight NE states. The use of satel­lite im­ages to phys­i­cally ver­ify projects to stop pil­fer­age of grants shows that the Cen­tre in­tends to make best use of the fund.

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