Rural Housing Scheme – Indira Awas Yojana (IAY)

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After being virtually neglected for the first three decades after Independence,

rural housing was included as a major activity in the 1980s in the National

Rural Employment Program and the Rural Landless Employment Guarantee

Program, both early predecessors of the SGRY rural employment scheme.

In 1985, for the first time specifi c proportions of rural employment funds

were earmarked for construction of houses for Scheduled Castes and

Scheduled Tribes and freed bonded labor. This was the origin of the IAY,

which continued as a sub-scheme of the JRY – another predecessor of

the SGRY.

According to the 1991 Census, 3.4 million households were without shelter

of any kind while 10.3 million households were living in unserviceable

houses. Adjusting for population growth, the central government projected

a net housing shortage between 1997–2002 at 18.8 million units, of which

8.5 million new houses would need to be constructed and another 10.3

million upgraded. A National Housing and Habitat Policy was adopted in

1998, aimed at providing ‘Housing for All’ and proposing construction of

almost 11 million units in the ninth fi ve-year plan (1997–2002), against the

projected shortage of 18.8 million units. The residual gap, along with the

additional defi ciency arising from population growth, was envisaged as a

target to be met in the tenth plan. However, only fi ve million units could

be constructed between 1997–2002 under the IAY and other CSS schemes

(CAG, 2003).

The objective of the IAY is to provide dwelling units free to the rural

population below the poverty line. It specifi cally targets poor households

belonging to scheduled castes and tribes, freed bonded laborers and other

specifi ed categories (the disabled and since 1996 families of members of the

armed forces killed in action). Grants-in-aid are provided to benefi ciaries

with a ceiling of Rs 20 000 in plain areas and Rs 22 000 in hilly or diffi cult

areas. The scheme also allows up to Rs 10 000 for upgrading of temporary

and unserviceable units. The house is registered in the name of the female

household member, or jointly in the name of husband and wife of the

benefi ciary household. In addition, an integral requirement of the IAY

scheme is provision of a smokeless cooking stove (chulha) and a sanitary

latrine in the houses constructed.

The implementation of the IAY scheme follows the familiar pattern of

delegation to local units, with the district rural development agencies and

Zilla Parishad entrusted with implementation, coordination, monitoring

and evaluation at the district level. Specifi cally, targets are decided at the

state level based on estimates of number of people below the poverty line

and the number of homeless, and district targets are developed based on the

numbers of those eligible and estimates of rural income and productivity.

Using these targets, the district rural development agencies and Zilla

Parishad decide the number of houses to be constructed in each Panchayat

and inform the Gram Panchayat. Local community-based organizations

and NGOs with a proven track record, if available, are also associated with

construction of IAY houses. The village assembly (Gram Sabha) in each

village selects the benefi ciaries restricted to the target allotted based on the

list of eligible households, and forwards the list to the Gram Panchayat.

The IAY enjoys considerable support since it creates a visible and valuable

asset for benefi ciaries, leading to improved security and economic and social

status. Unlike other schemes where benefi ciaries have to work in return for

assistance, the IAY provides grants with minimal requirements on the part

of benefi ciaries. Thus, in contrast to other targeting programs, the IAY has

not undergone major transformations or reincarnations since its inception

almost two decades ago.