How The Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana Has Been Tweaked To Provide Low Rent Houses To Poor Migrant Workers

How The Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana Has Been Tweaked To Provide Low Rent Houses To Poor Migrant WorkersAffordable Rental Housing Complexes (ARHC) project, is a sub-scheme under Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Urban).
Snapshot
  • Workers will now be eligible to get houses at low rents with the concession extending up to 25 years.

    The complexes will be made suitable for living with the State governments repairing the living spaces.

Last week, the Narendra Modi government cleared a proposal to provide houses at low rents to poor migrant labours in urban areas to help them get affordable accommodation closer to their place of work.

The proposal, Affordable Rental Housing Complexes (ARHC) project, is a sub-scheme under Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Urban) with the Union Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs allocating Rs 600 crore for it.

The scheme is expected to benefit a majority of the 1.39 crore migrant workers across the country. They could get houses at rents between Rs 1,000 and Rs 3,000 a month.

These migrant workers are mainly employed in States such as Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Kerala and Gujarat. Most of them belong to Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Bengal, Uttarkhand, Assam and other north-eastern States.

To start with, the scheme will likely benefit three lakh migrant workers from rural areas and small towns, who are employed in manufacturing, services, hospitality, construction and health sectors besides commercial establishments.

These workers will now be eligible to get houses at low rents with the concession extending up to 25 years. The complexes will be made suitable for living with the State governments repairing the living spaces.

The complexes will be provided water, sewerage, electricity and road connections using the Rs 600 crore allocation that comes under the “technological innovation grant”.

According to Union Housing Minister Hardeep Singh Puri, ARHC will offer dignified living spaces to a large part of the urban workforce that is forced to live in squalor. ARHC will create a new ecosystem in cities making affordable rental housing available close to place of work.

A transparent bidding process will be used to select the beneficiaries and the complexes will be given back to the local bodies such as municipalities once the 25-year agreement gets over.

The cycle will then restart all over, as per the government’s plans, with the municipalities getting the option of floating their own scheme.

In order to ensure that a maximum number of migrant workers benefit from this scheme, the Centre has allowed the use of an additional 50 per cent floor area.

The private sector will also be roped in this effort through concessions such as tax relief, concessional loan at interest rates that is extended to the priority sectors such as agriculture, and development of own land for such complexes.

Houses already constructed under United Progressive Alliance government schemes such as Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission and Rajiv Awas Yojana and remaining vacant will also be used for this purpose.

The ARHC is expected to offer new opportunities to the private sector for investment. The low rent scheme also has plans to construct dormitories, each of which can accommodate up to six people.

Policy experts have said that the ARHC will benefit even inter-district migrants and could be a boon to households headed by women.

According to the Builders Association of India, the Modi government’s move to provide various concessions, including tax relief, for development of vacant lands by the private sector is a wise move.

ARHC will likely bring in other economic benefits such as new housing clusters leading to new establishments, while it will curb pollution and help the environment as workers would not need to travel to their work which would be at a walkable distance.

For now, the Centre is fine-tuning the scheme with aspects such as eligibility.

The Modi government has come up with ARHC after it was criticised by the Opposition for failing to take care of the migrant workers’ welfare during the outbreak of the novel coronavirus.

The government also came in for criticism over lack of data on migrant workers.

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