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Govt set to transform country’s infrastructure development: Minister

Author: IANS/Friday, February 23, 2018/Categories: Infrastructure

Govt set to transform country’s infrastructure development: Minister

New Delhi, Feb 23 - Admitting that India's urban infrastructure was under "extreme strain", Union Minister of State for Housing and Urban Affairs Hardeep Singh Puri has said the government was committed to bringing holistic transformation in the country's infrastructure development, including providing 12 million houses in urban areas by 2022.

Sanctioning at a rate of 3 lakh to 5 lakh affordable houses per month under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY), Puri said the government is committed to providing "12 million houses in urban areas by 2022 as part of its home-for-all campaign". He said this capacity building was imperative as the urban population was expected to rise from the present 30% to an estimated 50% by 2030. 

"I was able to get cabinet approval for a new urban affordable housing fund and a provisioning of Rs 60,000 crore for the four-year period," the Minister said while delivering a special lecture on Thursday evening on '2022: The India We Seek', organised jointly by the Society for Policy Studies and India Habitat Centre. 

The ministry has also come out with eight models to promote private sector participation in the affordable housing sector. Six of these are based on leveraging government land and two are based on private land ownership. The cost of land can be as high as 40% to 80% of the house being provided. Both the central and state governments are also providing outright subsidies, and the typical cost of a home is about Rs 6.5 lakh. "PMAY is getting high traction. There can no more generous scheme for social transformation like this," he said.

Suggesting that the current government has a powerful, positive and growth-oriented agenda, he said: "In order to achieve the new India, the Indian state must be strengthened to deliver the goods and services required. You cannot deliver the goods and services if the state is enfeebled." He also laid emphasis on cooperative federalism for the effective execution of various flagship schemes aimed at planned urbanisation.

The Minister said that though India was one of the most successful examples of post-colonial reconstruction, it has several issues to address. "Millions of our people still suffer in poverty, we must still overcome deep-rooted social prejudices and satisfy the demand for shelter, food, clothing and opportunity for the rapidly growing population," he said.

The government plans to achieve 100% open defecation-free India and 100 per cent solid waste management in the country by the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi on Oct 2, 2019. Even Gandhi, in 1916, a year before his Champaran movement that heralded our freedom struggle, had called for a cleanliness campaign before striving for political freedom, said the minister. He stressed the need for a change in mindset among the people to achieve a "transformed India".

"Building toilets and meeting the physical targets is the easier part but it will also require behavioural change," he said and added that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been successful in transforming the attitude towards toilets, which was a taboo till recently. "The PM has created a Jan Andolan (mass movement) where governments, corporates, civil society and public have all got on to the campaign," he said.

Even the Smart Cities campaign is not just about infrastructure but about bringing a change in the mindset, he said. "The India we seek is where the public consciousness itself has been transformed, where there is housing for all, dignified existence for every citizen and protection from exploitative practices," said Puri.

It will be a transformed India by 2022, Puri asserted.

"GST, demonetisation, the insolvency bill, infrastructure status to housing and RERA have helped clean, reform and revive the real estate sector and has made the valuation more realistic," he said.

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