The Meghalaya Democratic Alliance (MDA) led by National People’s Party (NPP) headed by Conrad Kongkal Sangma is leaving no stone unturned when it comes to demanding for central schemes, taking advantage of being an associated member of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) which is in power at New Delhi. So far, Conrad has only focused on health care, roads and National Highways, but did not stress on the Housing for All by 2022, which should be developed side by side along with the infrastructure for the National Games 2022 coinciding with the 50th year of Meghalaya attaining statehood.
It may be mentioned that one of the flagship programmes of the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance government approved on June 17, 2015 has set the stage for a robust recovery in the residential property market, since this mission mainly aimed for the urban areas with following components, options to States, Union Territories and cities.
Meghalaya failed to yield benefit from the scheme, whereas, the cities are choked with migration, leading to unhealthy lifestyle and mounting of problems for the civic bodies to keep the cities clean.
It may also be pointed out that Housing for All by 2022 stressed on four strategies namely a) Slum rehabilitation of Slum Dwellers with participation of private developers using land as a resource; b) Promotion of affordable housing for weaker section through credit linked subsidy; c) Affordable housing in partnership with Public & Private sectors and d) Subsidy for beneficiary-led individual house construction or enhancement.
Also a Central grant of Rs. one lakh per house, on an average, will be available under the slum rehabilitation programme. A State Government would have flexibility in deploying this slum rehabilitation grant to any slum rehabilitation project taken for development using land as a resource for providing houses to slum dwellers.
Under the Credit Linked Interest Subsidy component, interest subsidy of 6.5 percent on housing loans availed upto a tenure of 15 years will be provided to Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) and Low Income Groups categories, wherein the subsidy pay-out on Net Present Value (NPV) basis would be about Rs.2.3 lakh per house for both the categories. Central assistance at the rate of Rs.1.5 lakh per house for EWS category will be provided under the Affordable Housing in Partnership and Beneficiary-led individual house construction or enhancement. State Government or their para statals like Housing Boards can take up project of affordable housing to avail the Central Government grant.
Meghalaya too has growing slum areas, but the state government failed to do a proper survey to declare the random and unhygienic settlers in various sector of the cities. The centrally sponsored Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) Basic Service of Urban Poor (BSUP) Scheme, implemented by the Meghalaya Urban Development Authority (MUDA) might have benefited around thousand people, but most of the housing projects are now poorly maintained and have further added to the concrete slum and equally unhygienic lifestyle.
The authority concerned needs to make a surprise inspection to all such housing projects in the state and impose a fine as per the instruction of the National Green Tribunal, also in participation to Swachh Bharat Abhiyan- A clean India, which would be the best tribute to Mahatma Gandhi on his 150th birth anniversary in 2019. Meanwhile, both MUDA officials and the General Administration Department (GAD) Department of Government of Meghalaya should also from time to time inspect the buildings, otherwise these will not only cause pollution to the surroundings, but also result in reckless destruction of the structure which may endanger the residents.
Meghalaya finds it difficult to take advantage of the Housing for All by 2022 because the state government is not the custodian of the landed properties. The Special Land Protection Act of Meghalaya is mainly protecting the Right of the indigenous tribals who are the owners of the land which can also belong to clans here.
Elsewhere, an unprecedented focus on reforms channelized through the Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Amendment Act 2016, demonetisation, Real Estate Regulatory Act (RERA) and the Goods and Services Tax (GST) regime can be seen while Meghalaya is said to have one of the most expensive land value in the country and as such will find the proposed low cost funding unmanageable.
In Meghalaya, although housing loans from the nationalized banks are easily available, particularly for the Government employees, the repayment process is a long drawn one which often takes years for the borrowers to clear and it has often been seen that most of the government employees even after their retirement, could not repay back the house loans to the banks.
The state government as per the provision of the Housing for All by 2022 should work out a Detailed Project Report (DPR) to lower the interest rate of banks loan and other financial institutions to ease the process for house loan so that Meghalaya will not lag behind the other states who are being benefited by Housing for All by 2022.
There is hope that the new government will take up such issues, which will also be part of Golden Jubilee of Statehood day celebration, and also renovate the cities keeping up with the 39th National Games in 2022 which Meghalaya will be hosting.