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  Rural Housing - Indira Awaas Yojana (IAY)

Housing constitutes a very basic requirement for human survival. It assumes great significance for the rural poor in that it lays the foundation for a life of dignity for them by dispelling the gloom of shelterlessness and conferring a distinct, secure identity. Addressing housing shortage is thus an important strategy of poverty alleviation in India. The 2001 Census places the rural housing shortage figure in India at 148 lakhs . The Bharat Nirman Programme has recognised and accorded due priority to the need to end shelterlessness and it is envisaged to construct 60 lakh houses over the next four years across the country, starting from 2005-06. The rural housing programme is implemented by the Ministry of Rural Development through the Indira Awaas Yojana scheme, which is a centrally sponsored scheme where the cost is shared between the Centre and the States on a 75:25 basis. The criteria adopted for allocation of financial resources between the States/UTs gives greater emphasis to the states with higher incidence of shelterlessness. 75% weightage is given to housing shortage and 25% weightage to the poverty ratios prescribed by the Planning Commission for State-level allocations. For district-level allocations, 75 % weightage is given again to housing shortage and 25 % to SC/ST component of the population. Grant assistance is provided to the extent of Rs. 25,000 per house for normal areas and Rs. 27,500 for hilly areas. Funds are released to the DRDAs in two installments. The implementation guidelines of the scheme specifically target the rural below poverty line (BPL) households. The selection of beneficiaries is done by the respective Gram Sabha from the BPL list and no higher approval is required. The guidelines also clearly specify that the house allotment should be in the name of the female member of the family as a first priority. While seeking to empower the rural women, the scheme also provides a quota for physically & mentally challenged persons, ex-servicemen, widows and freed bonded labourers. An important requirement in the implementation is that at least 60% of the beneficiaries should belong to the SC/ST communities. The objective of alleviating the lot of the underprivileged members of society is built into the scheme guidelines. The IAY scheme also lays emphasis on individual sanitation and health by incorporating the cost of a sanitary latrine and smokeless chulha into the grant. Various state governments have responded to the housing programme by placing it at the top end of their development priorities, thereby imparting great vigour to the implementation process. While the implementation lies with the DRDAs, the houses are constructed by the individual beneficiaries themselves, with absolute freedom of choice over the design. The scheme is closely monitored by an extensive network at the district, state and national level to ensure right selection and effectiveness in the implementation mechanism