Year sees stress shifting to affordable housing for urban poor

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New Delhi, Dec 24 (UNI) The introduction of the new National Urban Housing and Habitat policy emphasising affordable houses for the poor was among the highlights of the several initiatives that the Ministry of Urban Housing and Poverty Alleviation took in 2007.

However, the Ministry and other agencies of the government would have to work harder to bridge the shortage of 24.7 million houses, mostly in respect of the poor, existing at present.

The Ministry, headed by Ms Selja, has provided in the new national policy that at least 10-15 per cent of land in every new public-private housing projects or 20-25 per cent FAR whichever is greater would be reserved for EWS/LIG housing through appropriate spatial incentives.

The policy seeks to initiate various measures like public-private participation in land assembly, foreign direct investment, timely formulation and review of Master Plans and Zonal Plans, fiscal incentives for housing sector, strengthening modern technological advances to ensure low cost housing, simplification of various statues, increase in cooperation among Central Government, state governments and urban local bodies, etc.

It is expected that the new policy will give rise to fresh initiatives to tackle the urban housing shortage.

Considering the urban poverty issues becoming critical, the Ministry enhanced its budget for urban poverty alleviation by 40 per cent during 2006-07. A major restructuring to the existing Swarna Jayanti Shahari Rozgar Yojana (SJSRY) has been worked out and will soon be in place.

The focus is on the self-employment and development of micro-enterprise by the poor with focus on women, SCs/STs and minorities.

The allocation for the year 2007-2008 for the scheme of Swarna Jayanti Shahari Rozgar Yojana (SJSRY), which is the only urban poverty alleviation programme of Government of India, addressing the livelihood needs of the urban poor, has been enhanced from Rs 250 crore for 2006-07 to Rs 344 crore in 2007-08 that is an increase of about 38 per cent.

The globalising urban economies are increasingly being faced with acute shortage of skills, so, accordingly the Ministry has developed a scheme called Skills Training for Employment and Promotion amongst the Urban Poor(STEPUP).

The scheme will form part of National Skill Development Mission.

An Interest Subsidy Scheme of Housing for the Urban Poor, Integrated Low Cost Sanitation were also introduced during the year.

The scheme encourages poor sections to avail loan facilities through Commercial Banks/ HUDCO for construction of houses and avail subsidy in interest payment. During the year 2007-08, Rs 30 Crore has been allocated in the budget of the Ministry for the purpose.

Keeping in view the changing scenario of informal sector and also in order to provide due credit to the contribution of the street vendors/hawkers in the urban economy, the National Policy on Urban street Vendors 2004 is being comprehensively revised.

In this regard, based on the suggestions of the National Commission on Enterprises for Unorganised Sector as well as inputs from other stakeholders, a Model Law on Urban Street vendors is also proposed to be drafted for circulating to States/UT Governments for suitable adoption.

UNI

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