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Affordable Housing in India, Govt. Policy, Challenges


  • As the 2024 elections progress, numerous campaign pledges focus on housing issues.
  • However, India is facing a significant housing crisis.

Challenges in Addressing India’s Housing Crisis

  • Economic Viability: Building affordable housing remains economically challenging due to high land and construction costs.
    • Constructing low-cost houses for low-income people isn’t economically viable without subsidies, which adds to the government’s financial burden.
  • Mismatch between Supply and Demand: Despite a high number of housing units being built, there remains a mismatch in the type of housing being constructed and the needs of the poorest classes.
    • The first quarter of 2024 saw a decline in affordable housing supply to just 18% of new units, with mid-segment homes dominating the market.
  • Vacant Housing Units: The paradox of vacant housing units alongside a significant housing shortage indicates inefficiencies in housing allocation and usage.
    • As of the 2011 Census, there were 11 million vacant housing units, which suggests a need for better policy mechanisms to utilise existing resources effectively.
  • Urban Congestion and Slums: Over 65 million people, or about 5% of India’s population, lived in slums according to the 2011 Census.
    • This highlights the issue of urban congestion and inadequate infrastructure in existing housing provisions.

Government Policies on Housing

  • Constitutional and Judicial Foundations: The Supreme Court has interpreted the right to housing as part of the fundamental right to life under Article 21 of the Constitution.
  • Historical Policy Initiatives:
    • Indira Awaas Yojana (1985): Focused on rural housing.
    • Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) (2005): Aimed at urban housing development.
    • Rajiv Awas Yojana and Rajiv Rinn Yojna: Followed recommendations from the 2008 Parekh Committee report.
    • Housing for All (2015-22): Introduced by the Modi government, including schemes like Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY) for both rural (Gramin) and urban (Urban) areas.

Details on PMAY-U and PMAY-G

  • Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana-Urban (PMAY-U):
    • Launched in June 2015 with a target to provide homes to 1.18 crore families by December 2024. As of March 2024, about 67% of the target has been met, with 80 lakh units.
    • The scheme was extended to December 31, 2024, to complete sanctioned houses, with a significant portion of the housing not targeted at the urban landless poor.
    • The slum rehabilitation scheme under PMAY-U has sanctioned 2.96 lakh homes.
  • Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana-Gramin (PMAY-G):
    • Started in 2016 aiming to construct 2.95 crore houses, with a funding split of 60:40 between the Centre and State.
    • As of April 30, 2024, about 2.6 crore houses have been completed.
    • Over 69% of the houses are either wholly or jointly owned by women, reflecting a policy emphasis on female empowerment.

State-Level Initiatives

Andhra Pradesh’s Housing Schemes

  • The Navaratnalu-Pedalandariki Illu scheme aimed to construct 21.76 lakh houses with an outlay of ₹56,700 crore.
  • By October 2023, 7.43 lakh houses were completed, and the State had acquired over 77,000 acres of land.
  • The government has a target of building 1.79 lakh homes by March 2024, emphasising women’s empowerment by registering houses in the names of female beneficiaries.

Way Forward

  • Enhanced Subsidies and Financial Incentives: To make low-cost housing more economically viable, the government could increase subsidies for land and construction costs or provide tax incentives to developers who build affordable housing.
    • This could help bridge the gap between the cost of building houses and the price that low-income individuals can afford.
  • Utilisation of Vacant Units: Policies could be devised to make better use of the 11 million vacant housing units.
    • These could include rental subsidies to make these units affordable for low-income families or converting them into social housing projects.
  • Comprehensive Urban Planning: To address urban congestion and the proliferation of slums, a more integrated approach to urban planning is needed.
    • This could involve the development of new urban centres with adequate infrastructure to divert population and economic activities from overcrowded cities.
  • Focus on Women and Vulnerable Groups: Following the example of PMAY-G, where over 69% of houses are owned wholly or jointly by women, housing policies could continue to empower women and other vulnerable groups by ensuring property rights and participation in housing schemes.
  • State-Level Initiatives and Coordination: There should be increased coordination between the central and state governments to align national objectives with local needs and capabilities.

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