New Delhi: With an apparent eye on elections, the Centre Monday hiked by Rs 25,000 the monetary assistance under its housing scheme for the poor, giving primacy to scheduled castes, tribals and minorities.
Under the new guidelines for the Indira Awas Yojana notified Monday, the Centre also decided to transfer its share of the funding to the state governments directly instead of allocating it to the districts.
"The cost of a 250 sq ft housing unit is now Rs 70,000 as against Rs 45,000 earlier. For Naxal affected districts and hill states the per unit cost has been hiked to Rs 75,000 from Rs 48,500," Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh told reporters here.
He said the Centre has also doubled the assistance given to states for procuring a homestead site for the landless poor from Rs 10,000 to Rs 20,000.
States have been instructed to give "overriding priority" in allocation of IAY houses to freed bonded labourers, freed manual scavengers and particularly vulnerable tribal groups, Ramesh said.
For the IAY, the Centre and the states share is fixed at 75:25 ratio.
Noting that only 21 percent houses built under IAY had toilets, Ramesh said under the revised guidelines, building a toilet along with the IAY unit has been made mandatory.
"The last instalment under the scheme would not be released until a toilet is built along with the house," he said.
Another modification to the scheme is fixing targets for SC/ST and minority communities which would be proportionate to the population in respective states.
In a bid to insulate the scheme from possible scams, Ramesh said from next year the Centre's share of the IAY funds will be transferred to the consolidated fund of the states.
"We have seen the NRHM scandal in Uttar Pradesh. We do not want any scams in the IAY," he said.
For 2013-14, the Centre has set a target to build 30 lakh housing units with more than one-third planned to come up in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh.
Bihar, with 7.3 lakh housing units, is the biggest beneficiary of the IAY scheme this fiscal followed by Uttar Pradesh (3.6 lakh), West Bengal (2.3 lakh), Andhra Pradesh (2.5 lakh), Maharashtra and Assam (1.7 lakh each), Madhya Pradesh (1.4 lakh), Odisha (1.6 lakh), Gujarat (1.3 lakh) Karnataka (1.1 lakh).
Ramesh said states like Gujarat, West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Kerala and Andhra Pradesh have fared well in building toilets along with IAY houses.
The Centre has also asked states to send consolidated proposals for availing the scheme instead of asking every district to make their demands.
Till now, each of the 620 districts would send its IAY demands to the Centre and examining it was time consuming, officials said.
In the 2013-14 budget, the allocation for the scheme went up to Rs 15,184 crore from Rs 11,075 crore in 2012-13.