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Funding may double for flagship scheme's phase-2

BS Reporters  |  New Delhi 

Even after 7 years, big chunk of JNNURM phase-1 projects still on paper; phase-2 may be announced in April

The proposed phase-2 of the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) may see allocations double, though close to half of the phase-1 projects remain pending, especially in the case of housing for the poor.

Phase-2 of JNNURM is likely to be announced in April, as the first phase of the seven-year-old programme draws to a close this month. The allocation for the first phase, launched in 2005, was Rs 100,000 crore. The Central government was to give half the money.

JNNURM has been divided into infrastructure and transport-related services in 65 ‘mission towns’ (the nomenclature covers cities, too) and basic services, mainly housing, for the urban poor in 562 towns, including the first 65. The second phase will see the number of towns go up, officials said. In the case of Basic Services for the Urban Poor (BSUP), implemented by the ministry of urban housing and poverty alleviation (MUHPA), the second phase could see the number of towns go up to 1,000. The country has about 7,000 towns.(Click here for PERFORMANCE SHEET)

However, even as the ministry prepares an elaborate expansion plan, it says the states have failed in almost all targets with regard to urban housing. Of the 1.6 million houses planned, just 600,000 have been completed. The ministry says 400,000-500,000 houses were sanctioned as recently as two to four months earlier.

It had even circulated a note at the recent chief secretaries conference in Delhi, asking states to think of ways to get over the logjam in their respective housing schemes. According to a senior official, one way forward is to use the first two years of phase-2 to complete the old projects.

Spending has also been slow in the overall programme. Though 80 per cent of the allocated funds of Rs 44,000 crore have been committed, the Centre has so far released just Rs 14,000 crore of its share of Rs 25,000 crore.

According to MUHPA, which oversees both the Integrated Housing and Slum Development Programme and BSUP, the local bodies and states often find it difficult to make comparable allocations. “Land issues and some local problems also lead to delays at the town level,” a senior official told Business Standard.

Another problem with the scheme has been that allocations in JNNURM so far have been skewed in favour of big cities. An example is Ujjain, a pilgrimage centre, where just 500 houses for the poor came up. The same is the case with places like Varanasi, Kanpur or Surat. In comparison, houses in metropolitan areas being built under the scheme are much more.

JNNURM-2 should look at more tier-2 and tier-3 towns to prevent the cancerous growth of slums before it is too late, say officials. The ministry feels the higher allocations for tier-1 areas now reflect the gravity of the problem of urban housing for the poor — a result of years of neglect. JNNURM-2 should help prevent smaller towns from those mistakes, officials say.

Anumita Roychowdhury of the Centre for Science and Environment terms JNNURM a lost opportunity. She says it was supposed to realise principles such as accessible public transport and people-centric policies. But 70 per cent of funding in urban transportation have gone into building roads and flyovers, a business-as-usual scenario, she says.

First Published: Tue, March 13 2012. 02:12 IST