PRESS RELEASE- #India – House for Every Homeless Families ?


 

PIB Press Release
           
            As per Census 2001, total houseless households in the country stood at 0.45 million.  Census of India 2011 data on houseless households has not been released as on date, therefore, estimation of houseless households as of now and its comparison with the number in 2001 cannot be made at this juncture. However ‘Technical Group on Urban Housing Shortage’ has indicated that 0.53 million Households are in homeless condition in urban areas as of 2012.  This was stated by Shri Ajay Maken, Union Minister of Housing & Urban Poverty Alleviation (HUPA), in the Rajya Sabha today, in a written reply to a question by Shri C. P. Narayanan.
                        The Minister further stated that Land’ and ‘Colonisation’ are State subjects, therefore it is the primary responsibility of State Governments to provide houses/shelters to all citizens. Government of India did not have any scheme for construction of shelters for homeless persons during the Eleventh Five Year Plan. However, in order to complement and supplement the initiatives of State Governments in providing housing for the urban poor, Ministry of Housing & Urban Poverty Alleviation has been implementing following schemes/programmes:
·         Under Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) with its two components Basic Services to Urban Poor (BSUP) and Integrated Housing & Slum Development Programme (IHSDP), 1.57 million Dwelling Units have been sanctioned as on date.
·         The scheme of Rajiv Awas Yojana (RAY) is at a preparatory phase where Slum Free City Planning is being undertaken.
·         Under Affordable Housing in Partnership Scheme (AHP), 11 projects of 2 States viz., Karnataka & Rajasthan have been sanctioned.
·         The Interest Subsidy Scheme for Housing the Urban Poor (ISHUP) is meant to facilitate channelization of credit for the urban poor. As on date, 13,485 beneficiaries have been covered under ISHUP.
                        Under National Urban Livelihood Mission (NULM), ‘Shelters for Urban Homeless’ has been proposed to be taken up during Twelfth Five Year Plan. However, since necessary approvals have not been obtained, no time frame for its finalization can be committed at this juncture.
                     The Minister further stated that given the magnitude of the housing shortage and budgetary constraints of both the Central and State Governments, it is clear that Public Sector efforts will not alone suffice in fulfilling the housing demand. The exact time span to ensure a house to every family in the country cannot be estimated, the Minister added.

 

 

 

 

 

 

#India – Amendments in slum policy of Delhi, will benefit lakhs of slumdwellers #goodnews


 

After a long & continued struggle, Delhi Government brought amendments in modified slum policy after getting pressurized from the slum dwellers of Delhi.

 

Delhi Government has accepted most of the demands of the Sangathan & amended policy has been notified on 25th ‘February’2013. The benefits of amended slum policy of Delhi will reach to the hundreds of slum clusters & lakhs of slum dwellers of Delhi.

 

Since last one decade thousands of poor families living in slum clusters of Delhi facing inhuman evictions by the Government agencies. The ongoing eviction was supported by the modified slum policy which was notified on 19.02.2010 by Delhi Government.

 

This modified policy had a number of conditions under its eligibility criteria for rehabilitation of slum dwellers. Most of the slum dwellers were unable to fulfill those conditions despite of living in slums since last twenty years. This could have resulted in mass evictions of slum dwellers, loss of shelter & livelihood, school drop outs of children, extreme poverty and malnutrition among women & children. As per previous policy/guidelines, around 80-85% slum dwellers were not eligible for rehabilitation. The settlement of slums has direct link with the livelihood of lakhs of construction & domestic workers, transport workers, vendors & contract workers living in slums.

 

Delhi Shramik Sangathan mobilized thousands of slum dwellers in hundreds of slums in Delhi against the threat of mass eviction due to such anti labor & anti poor policy. The slum dwellers across Delhi sent thousands of letters to CM office as well as office of the Urban Development Minister of Delhi Government and also marched to Parliament to lodge their protest demanding amendments in slum policy of Delhi on 27th Novenber’2012.

 

Delhi Shramik Sangathan also submitted memorandum to Union Minister of Housing & Urban Poverty Alleviation, UPA Chairperson, Smt. Sonia Gandhi, CM of Delhi, Smt. Sheila Dikshit and Minister of Urban Development, Government of Delhi, Sh Arvinder Singh Lovely demanding amendments in slum policy of Delhi.

 

These actions pressurized Delhi Government to change several conditions for eligibility for rehabilitation. The major amendments include:

 

  • The policy announced on 19.02.2010 had not only defined eligibility criteria for slum dwellers but it had also laid down eligibility conditions for slums; the slums which are situated near footpath, safety zone of railway, right of way, community areas were not eligible for rehabilitation; got removed from the policy.
  • The cut-off date for slum rehabilitation extended from 31st March’2007 to 4th June’2009.
  • As per the modified policy dated 19.02.2010; the slum dwellers had to present documents (Ration cards, Election identity card etc) of four periods that is of 1998, 2002,2007 and on the date of survey. The amendment has removed previous requirements of documents for eligibility condition; the name of the slum dwellers should be in electoral list on or before 04.06.2009 and in the year of survey.
  • The basis of income of slum dwellers as eligibility criteria for rehabilitation got removed from the policy.
  • With respect to ownership right; the flat to the eligible slum dweller will be allotted initially on lease hold basis for 15 years and converted to free hold thereafter.
  • Delhi government has shown intention in the court to withdraw their petition against the order of the honorable High Court of Delhi for rehabilitation of evicted families of New Sanjay Camp, Okhla through petition WP(C) 8904/2009.
  • This amendment will have impact on a number of cases pending in honorable High Court of Delhi for rehabilitation of slum dwellers.
  • The benefits of amended guidelines will also apply to those eight slums which were demolished as per previous modified policy dated 19.02.2010.
  • The procedures of Survey of slums have become more transparent than the earlier one. Now, the slum dwellers will be informed in advance about the survey and each family will be included in survey list whether it’s owner of the Jhuggi or tenant.

 

The amended policy is still silent on the issues of In-situ rehabilitation and actual cost of the flat under JNNURM.

 

In total, the amendments in the slum policy will bring relief to the lakhs of slum dwellers of Delhi who were under threat of inhuman eviction & fear of throwing away out of the city. The reality will be known after implementation of these policy guidelines.

RAMENDRA KUMAR

Secretary General

Delhi Shramik Sangathan

M-9868815915

 

 

NRHM financial wrongdoings reflect systemic irregularities


Prioritizing healthcare for India's rural poor

Prioritizing healthcare for India’s rural poor (Photo credit: Gates Foundation)


It turns out that some state officials were using NRHM to enrich themselves
Vidya Krishnan

New Delhi: The National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) was launched seven years ago with the goal of improving healthcare delivery to people in villages, especially the poor, through a generous infusion of federal funds. Local authorities were given a relatively free hand in deciding how to spend the money, with the Centre promising funds with no strings attached for the first seven years.

It turns out that some state officials were using NRHM to enrich themselves instead, raising questions about oversight, governance and accountability at the government’s marquee public health programme, which has won a five-year extension because many of its goals, such as significantly reducing child mortality and improving maternal health, haven’t been met.

Last month, several senior officials of Madhya Pradesh’s health department came under investigation for allegedly siphoning off Rs800 crore from the programme’s budget.
That follows a corruption scandal surrounding NRHM in Uttar Pradesh after allegations that Rs5,700 crore was embezzled from the scheme by health department officials during the regime of Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party, which was ousted from power in the February-March assembly elections.

Six officials directly associated with the scheme in India’s most populous state died in controversial circumstances, one of them in police custody.

In Madhya Pradesh, health director Amarnath Mittal, who was overseeing NRHM’s implementation in the state, was suspended after income-tax (I-T) raids led to the recovery of evidence that he possessed unaccounted property worth Rs100 crore, according to Siddharth Chaudhary, superintendent of police, Lokayukta, an independent anti-corruption body that holds oversight of the state government.

Some Rs38 lakh in cash, 2.5kg of gold, jewellery worth Rs.72 lakh, foreign currency (€3,000 and 1,080 Australian dollars) and documents claiming titles for 50 acres of land were seized in the raids, Chaudhary said.

Public health experts say the case illustrates the larger malaise of corruption in India rather than fault lines in the programme that allowed flexible spending at the grassroots level.

“There is a need to delink the scheme from the system. The problem is not with NRHM’s design, but with governance,” said Amit Sengupta, co-convenor of the People’s Health Movement. “NRHM has been implemented efficiently in many states. Corruption at this level and of this kind—where bureaucrats are amassing Rs100 crore—does not happen without the connivance of elected representatives.”

“Besides, there are vested interests that want NRHM-like schemes to fail so that the argument in favour of outsourcing services to the private sector is strengthened,” Sengupta added. “There is a lot of evidence that there is connivance between government officials and private sector.”

The alleged financial wrongdoing in NRHM reflects the systemic irregularities that plague centrally funded schemes, including the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme and the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission, said Sidharth Sonawat, assistant director and healthcare analyst at industry lobby group Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry.

“This is a result of giving large amounts of funds, poor administering at state-level organizations and even worse monitoring from the Centre,” Sonawat said. “In the case of NRHM, district-level officials to elected representatives seem to be aware of the irregularities; otherwise such blatant, systemic corruption cannot exist in isolation.”

According to officials in the Madhya Pradesh Lokayukta, recent raids have established a payoff between the state’s health department and the procurement cell, Laghu Udyog Nigam. These officials didn’t want to be identified because they are not authorized to speak to the media.

An audit by the Accountant General of Madhya Pradesh, the apex body for compiling and preparing state-level accounts of public spending, has revealed that the health department incurred expenditures worth Rs67 crore without having budgetary provisions or approvals from the Union government.

In a letter dated 7 May, the audit officer sought a response from Ravindra Pastore, NRHM mission director for Madhya Pradesh.

The investigative arm of the Lokayukta is currently probing 13 cases of misuse of office against health commissioner Manohar Agnani and nine cases against Mittal, but is yet to link them to NRHM.

“As of now, Mittal’s raid is being treated as a case of disproportionate assets and we have not yet linked it to NRHM even though he was heading the department that rolled out the health scheme,” said Chaudhary.

“Besides disproportionate assets case, we received complaints alleging irregularities under various NRHM schemes in March and we have started our investigations,” he added.

While Mittal declined to comment, Agnani maintained that the cases of irregularities have been exaggerated and that he was “unaware that contracts had been given to blacklisted firms, substandard material procured at inflated rates, and unqualified officials had been employed”.

“My director (Mittal) would be best placed to answer these queries,” he said.

The department’s previous commissioner, Rajesh Rajora, is currently under suspension for irregularities to the tune of Rs11 crore, according to official data. Previous mission director Ashok Sharma was suspended in 2008 after Rs130 crore was allegedly recovered from his residence by I-T officials in a raid. Sharma was reinstated in 2010 and is currently director, health services.

“They (I-T officials) recovered only Rs27,000 from the raid at my residence. Subsequently, judicial inquiries were conducted in nine cases in which no irregularity was found,” Sharma said. “All those cases have been closed.”

Madhya Pradesh health minister Ajay Vishnoi resigned in 2008 on moral grounds after I-T officials raided 56 places in the state and unearthed evidence of a nexus between politicians, bureaucrats and suppliers.

This time, cases being investigated by the state’s Lokayukta include procurement of an insecticide under the anti-malaria programme, causing the exchequer a loss of approximately Rs70 crore; imposing monopolies in the purchase of ingredient used for analysis of blood samples that caused a loss of Rs20 crore; appointments in the health department that did not follow prescribed procedures; and favouring of two companies—Nitapol Industries and Kilpest India Ltd—that were blacklisted by the Gujarat government for supplying substandard insecticides.

Both the companies declined to comment on the matter.

NRHM was launched with a budget of Rs6,730 crore; the outlay swelled to Rs20,822 crore in the latest budget. It aimed at improving health indicators in rural areas, with a special focus on 18 states that lagged behind the rest on key health parameters.

It aimed at reducing the infant mortality rate (IMR) to 30 per thousand live births and the maternal mortality rate (MMR) to 100 per 100,000 live births and the total fertility rate (TFR) to 2.1 nationally, in line with the millennium development goals.

At the time of launch, Madhya Pradesh’s TFR was 3.6 while, MMR and IMR stood at 335 and 76, respectively. Seven years and Rs3,381.93 crore of spending later, the health indicators remain below target at 3.3, 269 and 67, respectively.

Still, the improvement is commendable given the backdrop of leakages, some public health experts say.

“If these figures are to be trusted, the drop in maternal mortality rate is impressive,” said Sakthivel Selvaraj, health economist at the Public Health Foundation of India. “The nine-point drop in infant mortality is also not bad. Overall, it is evident that NRHM has made a dent in these figures despite leakages in the system.”

Last month, the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) said it found large-scale financial irregularities in the NRHM scheme during Mayawati’s reign over Uttar Pradesh.

According to CAG’s audit report, funds worth Rs1,768.12 crore were received from the Centre but never shown in state government accounts. The report revealed that the government had not maintained accounts for advances worth Rs4,938.74 crore.

The Central Bureau of Investigation is investigating at least two ministers in Mayawati’s government and several bureaucrats in connection with financial irregularities.

Union health secretary P.K. Pradhan said NRHM could not be faulted because of Uttar Pradesh; anyway, only a portion of the scheme allowed flexible use of funds, he said.

“Because of UP (Uttar Pradesh), everyone is faulting NRHM without seeing how well it is implemented in southern states,” Pradhan said. “The government will never be able to implement any scheme if we start faulting in on this basis. Procurement and construction, etc., are the state government’s prerogative and states with better governance have done well under NRHM. Since funds were easily available in large amounts, a portion was flexible; states which lacked transparency took advantage of this.”

“It is vacuous to blame the system when the issue is individual intention and integrity of state-level bureaucracy and politicians,” Pradhan added.

vidya.krishnan@livemint.com

Immediate Release-Demonstrators against Slum Evictions arrested in Kolkata


Sanhati, April 8, 2012

Many demonstrators, including Sanhati activists, arrested during protest meeting

Message received from activists: Around 80 people including many women and children have been arrested while the meeting was continuing peacefully. Sanhati members Samik, Parag, Abhijnan and Partho have been arrested along with many other activists. Peoples spirits are high. The movement will go on.

Earlier : a day long sit-in demonstration to protest against Nonadanga slum demolition and forcible eviction, started at Ruby junction around 10am.

For the last one week, the evicted people are staying in an open field under the scorching sun and the blinding rain, facing police repression, but have refused to move away.

*********

7 April 2012

Letter to CM from residents of Nonadanga
Translated by Riten Mitra

Dear Sir,

We are a total of about 150 households and Nonadanga grounds has been our home for quite some time. Some of us have been here for the last two years, some six. There is another colony consisting of about 100 families, with an estimated mean population of about seven to eight hundred. We had all come to stay here from different parts of West Bengal. For the last 34 years, we have been victims of severe deprivation, working as cheap labor and trying hard to make ends meet in times of scarcity. Now we are to be ousted again. Where shall we go from here?

It is your government that replaced the old one for one, Tapasi Mallik. Then how could you drive away seven to eight hundred families at one go ? If we were just one or two households, like in the past, the shock would have been less. Are we to understand that the land which was deemed useless by the government, for the last 50 to 60 years, is now suddenly required ?

We are a group of helpless poor who have reached the limits of desperation. We appeal to you for the last time with the hope that you can come here and see our daily living conditions for yourself. If Didi could rush to the scene for one Tapashi Mallik, then she could surely hear the voices of 800 poor people and come here to see us. We look forward to seeing her. We hope that she comes and sees us.

Yours respectfully,

Nonadanga Majdur Palli
Thana-Tiljala
South 24 Parganas

Report of brutal lathicharge on protest by evicted slum-dwellers
by Partho Sarathi Ray

5 April 2012

Video : Clash at Ruby More

On 4th April, the Kolkata police conducted a brutal lathicharge on a peaceful protest rally of slum dwellers who have been evicted over the past one week from their hutments in Nonadanga in south Kolkata. Nonadanga is the area where slum dwellers evicted from various canal banks of Kolkata are being resettled over the past five years under the BSUP (Basic Services to Urban Poor) scheme of JNNURM. The resettlement projects have been run by KMDA (Kolkata Metropolitan Development Authority) and KEIP (Kolkata Environmental Improvement Project) who own the land in the area, although no basic services or amenities for the families sent to this area, such as schools or health services were provided. Nonadanga also became a place where many other families, escaping the ravages of hurricane Aila, or failed crops and indebtedness in their villages, came and settled. They had to pay Rs 5000 to Rs 10000 to the local CPI(M) or Trinamool Congress bosses, in order to be allowed to build hutments on the vacant land lying around. It is these people who are being evicted now, their shanties demolished and burnt down by KMDA and the police, as they are being labeled as “encroachers”. The real reason behind this is that the land in Nonadanga, very close to a major intersection on the E M Bypass, is a prime target of real estate developers, and these “encroachers” have to be removed in order to make this land available for “beautification”.

Last week the KMDA, went on a demolition drive, in spite of an appeal by the slum dwellers to the urban development minister Firhad Hakeem. The latter openly stated that all “illegal” settlers would be evicted. Around 200 shanties were bulldozed, and all belongings of these families were destroyed. Since then, around 150 families are staying out in the open, in the scorching sun, and their only means of sustenance is a public kitchen being run by some Leftist youth and political organizations which have come forward in solidarity with the slum dwellers. Yesterday, the evicted people had tried to take out a rally towards the E M Bypass road, but the police first prevented them from reaching the road, and then lathicharged. The rally, consisting of many women and children, was broken up in this brutal manner and many people have been injured. Women were beaten up mercilessly by male police. A pregnant woman named Rita Patra was injured and has been hospitalized. A 3 year old child Joy Paswan has had his head fractured by a police lathi. Many activists who were in the march were also beaten up in a targeted manner. However, the slum dwellers have not shifted from their demand of proper rehabilitation and compensation and would be marching to the office of the urban development minister today.

The government of “maa, mati, manush” of Mamata Banerjee has shown its true colours, evicting the “manush” from the “mati” and beating up the “maa”, all in order to hand over the commons land of Kolkata to the corporate land sharks in the best traditions set up by the previous CPI(M)-led government.

Appeal For Support More than 500 slum huts gutted near Ghazipur mandi fire


There was a huge fire today (31st January) at Ghazipur Dairy Farm, near landfill (Delhi-UP border) at 3:00 am early morning. More than 500 slum huts were burnt and about 350 households have lost all their belongings. Though, the fire was controlled by the administration and community members in couple of hours, only half of the slum huts could be saved after the endeavour.

The people living in this area are engaged with waste collection and it is their only source of livelihood. They are being organized with AIKMM (All India Kabadi Mazdoor Mahasangh).

With this fire, they have not just lost all their belongings but also need immediate assistance in the form of food, clothes and shelter in this cold season.

We appeal all of you to kindly help them in whatever form you can. There is immediate need for tarpaulin sheets, daris, blankets, winter clothing, food and utensils. We look forward to your assistance.

For more details, Contact : —

Shashi Bhushan Pandit
Mob: 09968413109

http://www.aikmm.org

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