News Frontliner Web Desk, 11 February 2019: Prime Minister Narendra Modi in October 2018, while addressing a gathering to mark the Grihapravesh (housewarming) of Prime Minister Awas Yojana- Grameen (PMAY-G) beneficiaries in Maharashtra, claimed that the UPA government constructed only 25 lakh houses during their last four years of their tenure, while his government constructed 1.25 crore houses in the last four years.
India’s interim finance minister Piyush Goyal also stated the same while presenting the interim Union Budget 2019 (Vote on Accounts) on 1 February.
There are two parts to the claims about housing made by Modi government:
i) 25 lakh houses were constructed under the previous Congress-led UPA government
ii) Modi government could build 1.25 crore houses in their almost five year tenure till January 19, 2019.
Now, let us make a reality check of this claim made by the BJP-led NDA government.
History of India’s Rural Housing Programme
Right after independence, housing programmes were started basically to provide shelter to the refugees who came to India after Partition. Thereafter, various schemes were tried that were implemented by both the central and the various state governments; which were government’s response to various movements aimed at upliftment of the poorer sections of the society.
Till the mid-80s, there was no uniform policy for rural housing in the states. Some states used the National Rural Employment Programme (NREP) and the Rural Landless Employment Guarantee Programme (RLEGP) to partly fund the houses’ construction, which asked the beneficiaries that they bear part of the construction cost.
Way back in June 1985, the then Congress government launched the Indira Awas Yojana (IAY) for constructing houses for the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe communities as well as for freed bonded labourers.
In April 1989, when the Congress government launched the Jawahar Rozgar Yojana (JRY), IAY (Indira Awas Yojana) became a part of it. Six per cent of the JRY budget was earmarked for IAY.
Old Planning Commission data reveals, that a total of Rs. 1,139.75 crore were spent between the launch of IAY in 1985 and 1992 for construction of slightly more than ten lakh houses.
Later, on the scheme was extended to cover ex-servicemen, families of the personnel from defence services/paramilitary forces killed in action, displaced persons and special tribal groups.
Since, 1993-94 financial year, the IAY budget was increased from six per cent of the total JRY budget allocation to ten per cent and the cover extended to included non-SC/ST Below Poverty Line (BPL) families.
From 1 January 1996, IAY was delinked from JRY and made an independent programme.
The 2006-07 Annual Report from the Ministry of Rural Development provides the comprehensive year-wise numbers of the houses constructed under IAY.
From its inception up until 2003-04, a total of 1,15,05,109 houses had been constructed under IAY scheme. Up to February 21, 2007, the total number of houses reached 1,53,94,375.
UPA Government’s Ten Year Data on Housing
In 2005, the then UPA-I government launched the Bharat Nirman Programme (BNP) in two phases, with an aim to accelerate the development of rural India. Other government welfare programmes like roads, electricity, telephone connections, irrigation, housing for the poor and drinking water were clubbed together under BNP.
The Planning Commission Annual Report of 2013-14 clearly states that during the first phase of Bharat Nirman, from 2005-06 to 2008-09, against the target of 60 lakh houses, a total of 71.76 lakh houses had been built. In the second phase, from 2010-11 to 2013-14, against a target for 120 lakh houses, 118.5 lakh houses were constructed till March 2014.
The ministry annual report shows 15,21,305 houses were constructed in 2004-05.
This shows that the two UPA governments, in their tenure of ten years, constructed a total of 2,05,47,000 houses (Two Crore Five Lakh Forty Seven Thousand).
So, the claim of PM Modi and his party men that only 25 lakh houses had been constructed in the five years before Narendra Modi came to power is nothing but spreading LIE.
Now to the Second Part of Modi Government’s Claim.
Rural Housing Under Modi Government
Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the much touted Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY) on November 20, 2016—with a stated vision of ‘housing for all’ by 2022. The target set then was 2.98 crore houses.
The Ministry of Rural Development website states, “IAY has been re-structured into Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana – Gramin (PMAY-G) w.e.f. 1st April 2016.”
Without any other major changes in the housing scheme, the amount released per house increased from Rs 70,000 to Rs 1,25,000 under PMAY.
The scheme has two components—PMAY (G) for rural and PMAY (U) for urban. When IAY was in force it dealt with rural housing, while the Rajiv Gandhi Awaas Yojana was for the urban poor.
Here, we are looking only at the numbers of rural schemes.
PMAY website says 1,12,41,824 people registered since the inception of the scheme in 2016. Of those who applied, a total of 95,35,421 people got sanction and 68,53,000 houses were constructed. Since the website shows data only from 2016-17, adding the numbers from 2014-15 and 2015-16 gives us a total of 1,03,27,000 houses. These numbers are up to February 2, 2019, but can still be counted as numbers for five years because the numbers from April 2014 and May 2014 are included.
Thus, in absolute numbers, this amounts to nearly 21 lakh houses less than what the previous government did in its five-year term. In other words, the UPA-II constructed 20 per cent more houses than the Modi government in five years.
Thus data from government’ own website shows that the claim by PM Narendra Modi and Union Minister Piyush Goel is far from reality and an example of utter falsehood.