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Hardeep Puri's Appointment to Push Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Low Cost Housing Agenda

The Ministry, a crucial one for fulfilling Narendra Modi’s social agenda, has been lying vacant since Venkaiah Naidu became the Vice President.

News18.com

Updated:September 3, 2017, 1:54 PM IST
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Hardeep Puri's Appointment to Push Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Low Cost Housing Agenda
Hardeep Puri at the swearing-in ceremony on Sunday. (TV grab)
New Delhi: Hardeep Puri has been appointed as the Minister of Housing and Urban Development (MHUD), in a fresh impetus to the Prime Minister’s vision for implementing the PM Awas Yojana to provide low cost housing in time before the next election.

The Ministry, a crucial one for fulfilling Narendra Modi’s social agenda, has been lying vacant since Venkaiah Naidu became the Vice President. Narendra Tomar was handed additional charge of the MHUD. However, the importance of the ministry requires a full time minister-in-charge. Narendra Tomar was handed additional charge of the Ministry after Venkaiah Naidu resigned in mid-July.

The Prime Minister has reportedly been unhappy over the progress of the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojna, which was meant to ensure low cost urban housing for all by 2022. The appointment of Puri is a step towards ensuring that at least some of the targets are finished in time for the next general election by 2019.

The scheme has identified a shortage of 20 million low cost homes in India’s urban areas and aims to build this number by 2022. However, the progress has been slower than expected. Press reports indicate that in the last 2 years only about 1.5 million, or less than 10% of the target, have got the nod, leave alone being constructed.

There is another reason why the completion of the project acquires new urgency: The Prime Minister in his New Year’s eve speech in December 2016 accorded low cost housing high priority. This was seen as a sop after demonetisation.

Modi had then said that the government will build 33 percent more houses than originally envisaged under the plan. He also announced that low cost housing would be given rebates, including a 4 percent rebate on interest for a loan up to Rs 9 lakh and a 3 percent rebate for loans worth Rs 12 lakh.

In the last two months the Prime Minister has held tele-conference calls with officials from states to urge them to accord priority to low cost housing. The states need to send information on beneficiaries before the Centre releases funds. However, there is confusion between the Below Poverty Line lists of the States and the Centre. Also, not having a full time minister in charge was slowing down the process.

It is hoped that the scheme will get an added push now with a full time minister.
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