New Delhi: With around 93.06 million people projected to live in slums across India by 2011, the ambitious Rajiv Awas Yojana (RAY) meant to provide housing to the urban poor is expected to roll out by January, officials say.
Under the ministry of housing and urban poverty alleviation, RAY - a scheme to give shelter to the homeless - aims to make the country free of slums.
"We intend to go to the cabinet with the scheme parameters by the end of this month. Once the cabinet approves the scheme, the ministry will decide the date for its launch. We hope to launch it in the next two months but certainly before the end of this fiscal," a senior ministry official told a news agency.
Official sources said the parameters of the scheme were considered by the Expenditure Finance Committee (EFC) of the finance ministry in the last week of October and based on its observations, the housing ministry is likely to move the cabinet.
The ministry had sought over Rs 6,000 crore (Rs 60 billion) from the EFC for the remaining period of the 11th Plan.
President Pratibha Patil, in her address to the joint session of parliament in June 2009, had announced the government`s intention to launch RAY and make India slum-free in five years. According to the committee`s report to the ministry submitted in September, India`s slum population is projected to rise to 93.06 million by 2011 (7.75 percent of total population).
The preparatory phase of the project began in March this year and states were required to prepare a plan of action based on geographic information system-enabled mapping for specific cities to be made slum-free, the official said.
Unlike previous schemes, RAY seeks to provide property rights to slum dwellers. The ministry has already prepared a model law on property rights which will be sent to states close to the scheme`s launch.
The official added that the project`s success depended on the will of state governments. "The states will have to align their laws to provide property rights to slum dwellers," he said.
An amount of about Rs10 lakh crore (Rs.10 trillion) would be needed to address the housing shortage in urban areas, 98 percent of which pertains to the economically weakers sections, ministry officials say.
The government is likely to use the public-private partnership (PPP) model to build infrastructure under the project.
"The central government cannot be expected to bear the entire expenditure. Private sector participation will be needed," the official said.
He said while it was largely for the states to finalise the terms of PPP, the ministry was working out a pattern of funding so as to fix the share of states and the central government.
The ministry has also decided to be more inclusive in defining slums and responded positively to the suggestion of an expert committee which said a contiguous area with 20-25 households having slum-like characteristics be considered as slums.
Officials said states will be required to continue the three reforms being carried out under the JNNURM (Jawharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission) for the urban poor - internal earmarking within local body budgets for basic services, earmarking at least 20-25 percent of developed land in all housing projects and provision of basic amenities.