Residential Poverty and India

The United Nations and its various constituent bodies have approved the right to adequate housing as a basic human right. The United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights has underlined that there should not be a sense of narrowness when interpreting the right to adequate housing i.e. the right to adequate housing should not be seen as just four walls and one roof. India has signed various international agreements regarding the right to adequate housing, but in spite of this it has become a challenging task to provide only one accommodation (not enough housing) to all the citizens in the country. The most neglected right to adequate housing can be seen in the rural areas of the country, where physical infrastructure as well as providing social infrastructure such as health and education facilities is also a challenge.

Concept of ‘residential poverty’

Residential Poverty
  • According to international standards, poverty refers to the condition of being deprived of basic human needs. The concept of residential poverty is also similar to the concept of poverty.
  • However, before understanding the concept of residential poverty, it is necessary that we understand the concept of ‘adequate housing’, because lack of adequate housing gives rise to residential poverty.
  • Adequate accommodation also includes electricity and water supply and basic facilities such as sanitation and sewage management in addition to four walls and a roof.
  • Analysts believe that residential poverty affects a person’s ability to remain physically and mentally healthy and economically and educationally productive.

Right to adequate housing

  • The Supreme Court in India has recognized the right to adequate housing as a fundamental right under Article 21 of the Constitution of India.
  • The right to adequate housing is also mentioned in Section 26 of the Constitution of South Africa. according to:
  • Every citizen of South Africa has the right to access to adequate housing.
  • The nation should make every effort to ensure the right to adequate housing within the scope of available resources.
  • According to Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, ‘Everyone has the right to a dignified standard of living for himself and his family, which includes food, clothing, housing, medicine and other essential social services.’
  • Apart from this, many other countries like Nepal, Bangladesh, Nigeria and Uganda etc. have also given right to adequate housing right in their constitution.

Residential poverty in rural areas of India

Residential Poverty
  • According to official figures, around 25.85 million people in the country are facing residential poverty, of which around 82 percent are in rural areas and the rest in urban areas.
  • The difference in the ratio of rural poverty to rural areas is quite large and it clearly shows the situation in rural areas.
  • Unskilled laborers and low income people in rural areas are most affected by this form of poverty.
  • Talking about various aspects of residential poverty, about 45 percent of the households in rural areas are living without electricity, biogas and LPG, while 69 percent of the households do not have their own toilets.
  • As a result, due to dissatisfaction with the housing system in rural areas and the possibility of better housing elsewhere, the rate of internal migration is also very high.

Causes of residential poverty in rural areas

  • The residential sector in India’s rural sector is constantly facing a lack of meaningful market intervention, including supply and financing of developed land for housing.
  • It would not be fair to say that India never made extensive efforts to eradicate poverty, but all such efforts could not prove effective in reducing the urban-rural divide.
  • Due to incompatibility between demand and supply, millions of people in the country are living in residential poverty even today.
  • The lack of financing during the initial phase of planning has forced policy makers to adopt the overarching philosophy of the principle of development, under which it is expected that rural areas will also benefit from urban-centric development.
  • Poverty and lack of access to any formal source of finance make rural people unable to build safe and permanent homes.

Government Efforts – Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana

Residential Poverty

On March 1, 2016, the erstwhile Indira Awaas Yojana (Indira Awaas Yojana-IAY) was reorganized and named as Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana-Gram (PMAY-G).
The objective of PMAY-G is to provide pucca houses with basic amenities to all the homeless homeowners and people living in rough and dilapidated houses by the year 2022.
The total cost of the scheme is shared between the Central Government and the State Governments in the ratio of 60:40, while for Northeast and Himalayan states this amount is shared in the ratio of 90:10.

Road ahead

  • If we have to reduce housing division or inequality in rural areas of the country, then this will require an ‘Integrated Housing Development’ strategy, which will be implemented in ‘Mission Mode’.
  • Accountability should be fixed in relation to implementing such a mission along with social audit at various levels of governance.
  • Redevelopment of new housing units requires correct allocation of resources in addition to other costs related to drinking water supply, household toilets, energy and drainage.
  • Public-private-partnership projects (PPP Projects) need to be encouraged to fulfill this objective.

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